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Special Indulgences for the World Day of the Sick


Redemption was brought about through the Holy Cross of Christ, that is, through his Passion. All human suffering, in truth, can share in the redemptive suffering of the Lord. In fact, St Paul the Apostle said: “I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” (Col 1:24).

In this Year of Faith, dedicated especially to the profession of the true faith and to its correct interpretation, it is worth remembering the luminous teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the Christian idea of suffering and the brethren’s participation in it: “Since the works of charity and mercy express the most striking testimony of the Christian life, apostolic formation should lead also to the performance of these works so that the faithful may learn from childhood on to have compassion for their brethren and to be generous in helping those in need” (Decree Apostolicam Actuositatem, n. 31 c).

Thus, motivated by the desire that the annual celebration of the World Day of the Sick, this year particularly solemn, is proving to be an ever more effective catechesis on the salvific meaning of suffering and further sensitizes those who, in various capacities, work to serve people who are suffering in body and soul, the Holy Father chose the Good Samaritan as the theme for the 21st World Day of the Sick, to be celebrated from 7-11 February 2013: “Go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37), which teaches doing good for those suffering and doing good with one’s own suffering (cf. Ap. Letter Salvifici Doloris, 30). At the conclusion of the Day, the Liturgical Memorial of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers and Special Envoy of His Holiness, will preside at a solemn Eucharistic Celebration and will administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick at the Holy Marian Shrine of Altötting in the Diocese of Passau.

In order that the faithful might prepare themselves spiritually in the best way possible for the event, His Holiness Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the Cardinal Major Penitentiary and the Regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary on 18 January, has graciously offered the gift of Indulgences in accordance with the following disposition, so that members of the faithful who are truly repentant and motivated by love, following the example of the Good Samaritan, may put themselves at the service of the brethren with a spirit of faith and a merciful heart, and, if they in turn fall ill, that they may endure the suffering and adversity of life, raising their soul to God with humble trust and offering a visible witness of faith through the Gospel of suffering:

A. The Plenary Indulgence, which a member of the faithful with a truly repentant and contrite heart will be able to obtain once a day, on the usual conditions (Sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion, prayers for the Holy Father’s intentions) and to apply suffrage to the souls of the faithful departed, every time from 7-11 February, in the Holy Marian Shrine of Altötting or in any other place established by the Ecclesiastical Authority, that they devoutly participate in a ceremony celebrated to implore God for the aims of the World Day of the Sick and who recite the Our Father, the Creed and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The faithful in public hospitals or in any private home who charitably assist and care for the sick, like the Good Samaritan, who are prevented by their service from participating in the ceremonies mentioned above, will obtain the same gift of a Plenary Indulgence, if, on those days, they generously devote their charitable assistance to the sick for at least a few hours, as if they were tending Christ the Lord himself (cf. Mt 25:40); and recite the Our Father, the Creed and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, in a spirit of total detachment from any inclination to sin and with the determination to fulfil as soon as possible the conditions required for obtaining the Plenary Indulgence

Finally, the members of the faithful who due to sickness, advanced age or other such reasons, are prevented from taking part in the above-mentioned ceremonies, will obtain the Plenary Indulgence provided that, in a spirit of total detachment from any inclination to sin, with the intention of fulfilling the usual conditions as soon as possible, they take part in spirit in the sacred functions on the specific days particularly while the liturgical celebrations and the Message of the Supreme Pontiff are being broadcast via television and radio, devoutly pray for all the sick and offer their physical and spiritual suffering to God through the Virgin Mary, Salus infirmorum.

B. The Partial Indulgence for all the faithful every time they address to the merciful God with a contrite heart on the above-mentioned days, devout prayers for the sick in spirit during the Year of Faith.

This Decree is effective for this occasion. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary.

Given in Rome at the offices of the Apostolic Penitentiary on 25 January 2013, on the Feast of the Conversion of the Apostle St Paul, day closing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Manuel Card. Monteiro de Castro
Major Penitentiary

Mons. Krzysztofc Nykiel


L. + S.
Prot. n. 5/13/I