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Extending the extension: Praying for the dead all through November 2021

By Jennifer Gregory Miller ( bio - articles - email ) | Oct 29, 2021 | In The Liturgical Year

November is upon us. It is the liturgical time of the year when we are made more aware of “the Last Things” through the focus of the Communion of Saints—the Church Triumphant in heaven, the Church Suffering in Purgatory and the Church Militant (ourselves) on earth. This is the month we particularly pray for the souls in Purgatory, the faithful departed who still need cleansing and purifying before they can enter heaven. The Church recognizes our connection with these suffering brothers and sisters and provides us all sorts of prayers and good works applicable to them to speed their ways to the beatific vision. I have written before on all the ways to help our faithful departed in November (links to previous articles at the bottom of this post). I often think how the veil between our world and the spiritual world is much thinner during this month, that I can almost feel and hear their souls pleading with me to remember them in my acts and prayers.

An Extension in the Indulgences for the Souls in Purgatory

My particular favorite indulgenced act is visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed during November 1 through 8. It has become a favorite tradition of my family and my students. November means a closer awareness of our body’s mortality, but also our immortality—and a closeness to our larger family in the Communion of Saints.

The Enchiridion or Manual of Indulgences, completely revised in 1968 and 4th edition in 1999, states:

FOR THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED

§1 A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is granted to the faithful who,

  1. on any and each day from November 1 to 8, devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, if only mentally, for the departed;
  2. on All Souls’ Day (or, according to the judgment of the ordinary, on the Sunday preceding or following it, or on the solemnity of All Saints), devoutly visit a church or an oratory and recite an Our Father and the Creed.

§2 A partial indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is granted to the faithful who

  1. devoutly visit a cemetery and at least mentally pray for the dead;
  2. devoutly recite lauds or vespers from the Office of the Dead or the prayer Eternal rest (Requiem Aeternam)

Praying in a cemetery can earn a plenary indulgence applied only to a soul in Purgatory, following the usual conditions. These conditions were loosened in 2000, to make it easier to obtain that indulgence. The time for making a Confession is expanded 20 days before or after the indulgenced act, and one confession could cover a month of indulgenced acts. The reception of Holy Communion and prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father no longer need to be on that day, but 20 days before or after, but one each per indulgenced act.

Last year because of the disruptions due to Covid-19, the Apostolic Penitentiary gave a greater extension for indulgences for the Poor Souls for this November, allowing the faithful to receive a plenary indulgence for visiting a cemetery every day in November, not just November 1-8. The other special indulgence of visiting a church on All Souls’ Day and recite the Our Father and the Creed may be transferred to any other day in November.

And the faithful who are housebound due to age, sickness or other serious reasons can earn a plenary indulgence for a variety of devotions safely from their homes. See the Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary on Plenary Indulgences 2020 for more details.

November 2021: The Extending of an Extension

For November 2021, the same spiritual benefits that were extended for November 2020 are also applicable again this November. Again, all the benefits applied for November 1-8 are now extended all through the month of November. See the Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary on Plenary Indulgences for the deceased faithful, 28.10.2021.

What Are the Conditions for A Plenary Indulgence?

“After I do this prayer or indulgenced act, what else do I need to do to earn the indulgence?”

A quick summary on the conditions to gain a Plenary Indulgence:


While being detached from sin,

  1. Sacramental Confession—one Confession can cover many indulgences, and can be done 20 days before or after.
  2. Eucharistic Communion—one Communion per indulgenced act, but can be received 20 days before or after.
  3. Prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father—usually an Our Father and a Hail Mary, one set of prayers for each act, can be prayed 20 days before or after.

You may earn one Plenary Indulgence a day, applicable only to another soul.


Let this November be a good reminder to pray for family, friends, and those who have no one to pray for them, so they may be with God in heaven sooner!

See my previous November Posts:

Jennifer Gregory Miller is an experienced homemaker, mother, CGS catechist and authority on living the liturgical year. She is the primary developer of CatholicCulture.org’s liturgical year section. See full bio.

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