Before I talk about the indulgences attached to praying the rosary, first for the benefit of those who do not know what an indulgence is I will like to briefly discuss what an indulgence is.
An indulgence is the remission of temporal punishment due to sin.
The Catholic Church teaches that when a person commits sin, and visits the Sacrament of Reconciliation that is Confession, after absolution at the Confessional, the sin has been forgiven but there is a punishment due to that sin.
So indulgence is one way to cleanse this punishment due to sin and this can also be said to be where the theory of Purgatory comes in.
Purgatory is not a place for sinners no but a place for the righteous, men and women who lived good lives who need some form of purification before the can see God.
Remember the Bible said that nothing impure shall see God (Rev21:27) and the same Bible also tells us in John 1:8 that “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
So if we all have sin, does it mean that none will see God? No. sometimes purification can come through sufferings or illness one goes through before the soul departs this life.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030 teaches that “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned”
So a righteous soul who dies having some venial sins or punishments due to sins that had been confessed is purified in Purgatory but while the person still lives, the punishments due to sin could be purified through indulgence.
An example of punishment due to sin in the Bible is the case of King Solomon and Bathsheba the wife of Urai. In the Old Testament Second Samuel chapters 11 & 12, we all know how King David had Uria killed in battle and took over his wife Bathsheba.
The Prophet Nathan on the instruction of the LORD confronted the King and told him how God will punish his family because of what he had done.
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”
After a short time the son became sick, King David prayed and faster but on the seventh day, the child died.
You see that King David was forgiven by God but the son still had to die as a punishment for the sin he committed.
There are two types of indulgence, Partial and Plenary Indulgence.
A plenary indulgence means that by the merits of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, the full remission of the temporal punishment due to sacramentally forgiven sins is obtained. The person becomes as if just baptized and would fly immediately to heaven if he died in that instant. A partial indulgence means that a portion of the temporal punishment due to forgiven sin is remitted.
Conditions to receive indulgence
To gain a plenary indulgence one must perform the indulgenced act. Three other conditions must be fulfilled:
A sacramental confession
Prayers for the Pope’s intentions (One Our Father, One Hail Mary & One Glory Be)
In addition, one must be free of all attachments to sin, even venial sin. If this complete integrity is not present or if the above conditions are not fulfilled the indulgence is only partial.
Both a plenary and partial indulgence may be applied to the dead.
How you can gain an indulgence by praying the rosary.
A Plenary Indulgence may be gained (under the usual conditions) when the Rosary is prayed in Church, in a family group or in a religious community. Also:
Five (5) decades of the Rosary must be prayed continuously.
The prayers of the Rosary must be prayed vocally and one must meditate upon the Mysteries of the Rosary.
If the recitation of the Rosary is public, the Mysteries of the Rosary must be announced.
To gain A Partial Indulgence
One may gain a partial indulgence for the Rosary’s recitation in whole or in part in other circumstances.
A Plenary Indulgence can be gained only once a day (except by those who are in danger of death.)