The Vatican's Apostolic Penitentiary has attached a plenary indulgence to the viewing of the Treasures of the Church relics.
The decree stating this indulgenced grace was issued in Latin in May.
Treasures of the Church is a Vatican-sanctioned ministry tour of over 150 authenticated relics. The exhibit has been to hundreds of diocese and dozens of countries, invited in by individual parishes, seminaries or schools. Hundreds of thousands of people have now venerated the relics.
Among the relics are those of all Twelve Apostles, St. Joseph, St. Maria Goretti, St. Thérèse of Lisieux (the "Little Flower"), St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Faustina Kowalska. The supreme highlight is one of the largest fragments of the True Cross in the world. Another highlight is a piece of the Veil that, according to sanctioned tradition, is believed to have belonged to Our Lady.
The evangelization ministry is run by Fr. Carlos Martins of the Companions of the Cross, with the purpose of giving people an experience of the living God through an encounter with relics of his saints. Each exposition begins with a multi-media presentation on the Church's use of relics that is scriptural, catechetical and devotional. After the presentation, those in attendance have an opportunity to venerate the relics of some of their favorite saints. Many stop to touch, kneel or pray before a relic, read a brief history of the holy person's life, and frequently hold rosary beads or photos of loved ones to the relic.
The Apostolic Penitentiary is a Vatican dicastery that deals with matters of conscience, or "getting right with God," as Fr. Carlos puts it, including indulgences. It is the only dicastery that does not cease operating when a Pope dies.
Until now, a request for an indulgence for each individual exhibit was required, a lengthy process. Now the grace of this indulgence is attached to any veneration of the Treasures of the Church relics for seven years, through 2025. The indulgence can be applied to oneself, to another person including a deceased person, or to the souls in purgatory in general.
A plenary indulgence completely removes the temporal punishment for sin already confessed; that is, time in purgatory. This indulgence carries four requirements:
- Attend an exhibition of the Treasures of the Church and venerate at least one relic
- Pray for the Pope's intentions: Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
- Go to Confession
- Receive Holy Communion
According to the Apostolic Penitentiary, “it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act.”
The relics are carefully packaged and shipped from site to site along with their accompanying documents of authenticity. There is no charge for either parishes hosting the exhibition or for individuals attending, with all transport expenses covered by donations alone. Wherever the exhibition is, large crowds come out to view the fascinating relics, and the added indulgence is sure to bring even more.