An indulgence is the remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, a remission, which one of the faithful, properly disposed and under certain definite conditions, can acquire through the Church, which authoritatively dispenses, applying the treasure of the satisfactions of Christ and the Saints.
An indulgence is either PLENARY or PARTIAL, depending upon whether it frees one from the whole or from a part of the temporal punishment due to sin.
This means that one of the faithful who, with at least a contrite heart, performs a work enriched with a partial indulgence, is granted by the power of the Church that same amount of remission of temporal punishment as he has already obtained by the work itself. In other words, the remission is doubled, and that as often as the work prescribed is performed. A plenary indulgence means a full remission of temporal punishment, provided that several other conditions apply, in addition to the work performed or prayer said.
A plenary indulgence is granted, if the Rosary is recited in a church or public oratory or in a family group, a religious Community or pious Association; a partial indulgence is granted in other circumstances.
"Now the Rosary is a certain formula of prayer, which is made up of fifteen decades of "Hail Marys" with an "Our Father" before each decade, and in which the recitation of each decade is accompanied by pious meditation on a particular mystery of our Redemption." (Roman Breviary) The name "Rosary," however, is commonly used in reference to only a third part of the fifteen decades.
The gaining of the plenary indulgence is regulated by the following norms:
- 1) The recitation of a third part only of the Rosary suffices; but the five decades must be recited continuously.
- 2) The vocal recitation must be accompanied by pious meditation on the mysteries.
- 3) In public recitation the mysteries must be announced in the manner customary in the place; for private recitation, however, it suffices if the vocal recitation is accompanied by meditation on the mysteries.