BLESSED CROSSES, CRUCIFIXES, ROSARIES, MEDALS, ETC.
However ancient may have been the custom of the Sovereign Pontiff to bless and distribute to the faithful sacred articles of gold, silver, or other metal (whence originated the Pontifical blessing and distribution of crosses, crucifixes, rosaries, medals, &c.), yet is it certain that, previous to the sixteenth century, no Indulgences were annexed to such articles. It was Pope Sixtus V. who, when, on the rebuilding of the Lateran Arch-Basilica, many medals of gold were found in various places by the falling of the walls of the former building on which were impressed the Holy Cross and other figures hearing the cross, caused a distribution to be made of them, and granted many Indulgences to those who had any one of these medals in their possession, provided they fulfilled certain works enjoined them: this we learn from the Constitution Laudemus viros, of Dec. 1, 1587. From that time the Popes, his successors, annexed the Indulgences to other objects besides medals blessed by Him – such as chaplets, rosaries, crosses, crucifixes, &c., – persuaded that the usage of these sacred objects excites in the minds of the faithful faith and acts of adoration towards God, and reverence for the Blessed Virgin, and the Saints.
Having given this short historical sketch upon this matter, we will now transcribe
THE SUMMARY OF INDULGENCES
granted by his Holiness Pope Pius IX. to the faithful who shall do the pious works mentioned in this summary, and possess one of the chaplets, rosaries, crosses, crucifixes, statues, or medals blessed by his Holiness, or by some one who has faculties for the purpose. This grant is renewed by every fresh Sovereign Pontiff elect, being published in Latin and the vulgar tongue and it has been reformed and augmented by the above-named Sovereign Pontiff Pius IX. through the S. Congr. of Indulgences, May 14, 1853.
All the faithful of both sexes are instructed:- In the first place, that in order to gain the Indulgences with which his Holiness the Pope by his apostolic blessing enriches chaplets, rosaries, crosses, crucifixes, images, and medals, it is necessary to wear or to keep in their possessions some one of the aforesaid chaplets, &c.
And, in the second place, that they must say the devout prayers prescribed below as the conditions required in order to gain the Indulgences, at that time that they are wearing some one of the aforesaid chaplets, crucifixes, &c.; or, if not wearing them, they must keep them in their own room, or in some other fitting place in their abode, and recite their prayers before them.
Furthermore, his Holiness does not allow for this purpose prints or pictures, nor yet crosses, crucifixes, statues, and medals of tin, lead, or of any material that can be easily broken or destroyed. He does, however, allow them to be made of iron, although that material has been hitherto forbidden.
He also desires that the images of Saints engraved upon them should be of those who are already canonised, or of others mentioned in the Roman Martyrology.
All this is premised in order to make his Holiness’s intention as clear as possible. The Indulgences which can be gained by those who possess one of the aforesaid objects when blessed, and the pious works to be performed, are as follows:
i. A plenary indulgence, on the undermentioned days, to all who shall say at least once a week the Chaplet of our Lord, or of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Rosary, or a third part thereof, or the Divine Office, or the Office of the Blessed Virgin, and of the Dead, or the Seven Penitential or the Gradual Psalms; or whose custom it is to teach the Catechism, or visit prisoners, or the sick in a hospital, or help the poor, or hear Mass, or say Mass if they be priests, provided that they be truly penitent, and have Confessed to a confessor approved by the ordinary, and shall go to Communion on any of the following days, viz. Christmas Day, the Epiphany, Easter Day, Ascension Day, Pentecost, the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, of Corpus Christi, the Purification, Annunciation, Assumption, and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Nativity of St. John Baptist, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, Philip and James, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude, Matthias, St. Joseph the espoused husband of the Blessed Virgin, and All Saints; at the same time praying to God for the extirpation of heresies and schisms, for the propagation of the Catholic faith, for peace and concord amongst Christian princes, and for the other necessities of Holy Church.
ii. An indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines, on the other Feasts of our Lord and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to all who shall perform the aforesaid good works on these feasts; and the indulgence of five years and five quarantines to those who shall do them on any Sunday or feast in the year; and lastly, an indulgence of 100 days to those who shall perform them on any other day in the year.
iii. An indulgence of 100 days to those who are accustomed to say at least once a week the Chaplet, or the Rosary, or the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or of the Dead, or the Vespers, or at least one Nocturn of it, together with Lauds; or who shall say the Seven Penitential Psalms with the litanies and Prayers; to be gained on the day on which they shall say the same.
iv. A plenary indulgence to all who, at the point of death, shall devoutly recommend their souls to God; and who, according to the instruction of Benedict XIV. of happy memory, expressed in his Constitution of the 5th of April 1747, which begins Pia Mater, shall be ready to receive death with resignation from the hands of God; provided they be truly penitent and have gone to Confession and Communion, or, if unable to comply with this duty, shall at least have invoked with contrition the most Holy Name of Jesus with the heart, if not able to do so with the lips.
v. An indulgence of fifty days to those who shall use any kind of prayer as a preparation before saying Mass, or before the Holy Communion, or before saying the Divine Office, or the Office of the Blessed Virgin.
vi. An indulgence of 200 days to the faithful every time they shall visit prisoners, or the sick in hospitals, assisting them by some pious action, or shall teach the Catechism in church, or at home to their own children, relations, and servants.
vii. An indulgence of 100 days every time, to all who at the sound of the bell of some church in the morning, midday, or evening, shall say the usual prayers Angelus Domini, &c. or not knowing them, one Pater noster and one Ave Maria: or who, in like manner, when the signal-bell for the dead is rung at one hour after nightfall, shall say the Psalm De profundis, &c.; or, not knowing it, one Pater noster and one Ave Maria.
viii. An indulgence of 100 days to those who, on Friday, shall devoutly meditate on the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ, and say three Pater noster’s and three Ave Maria’s.
ix. An indulgence of 100 days to all those who, being truly sorry for their sins, shall, with a firm purpose of amendment, examine their conscience and say with devotion three times the Pater noster and Ave Maria in honour of the Most Holy Trinity, or the Pater noster and Ave Maria five times in memory of the Five Wounds of Jesus Christ.
x. An indulgence of fifty days to those who shall pray devoutly for the faithful who are near their departure out of this life, or at least shall say for them one Pater noster and one Ave Maria.
All and each of the Indulgences above named, his Holiness permits every one to gain for himself, or to apply by way of suffrage to the souls in purgatory.
His Holiness further declares, that by the grant of the aforesaid Indulgences he in no way intends to derogate from the Indulgences already granted by different Popes, his predecessors, in favour of certain pious works named above; but desires that they should all remain in their full force.
His Holiness also commands that in the distribution and use of the chaplets, rosaries, &c. blessed as above, the decree of Pope Alexander VII., of holy memory, issued the 6th of February 1657, shall be observed, viz. that the Indulgences annexed to the said objects shall not go beyond the person of him to whom these blessed objects shall be confided, or at least of those to whom who shall distribute them for the first time; and that when one of them is lost, another shall not be substituted for it at pleasure, all grants or privileges to the contrary notwithstanding; and that they shall not be lent or given to others for a time for the purpose of communicating the Indulgences, in which case they would lose the Indulgences: as also that the said objects, when they have received the papal blessing, shall not be sold, according to the decree of the S. Congr. of Indulgences and Holy Relics published the 5th of June 1721.
His Holiness also confirms the decree of Benedict XIV. of holy memory, issued the 19th of August 1752, by which he expressly declares that Mass said at an altar where such crucifixes, medals, &c. may be placed, or which is celebrated by a priest who wears them, does not become privileged in virtue of crucifixes, medals, &c. blessed as above.
Moreover it is forbidden to all persons who assist the dying to give them the blessing, with the Plenary Indulgence in articulo mortis, by means of these crucifixes or medals, without a special faculty obtained in writing, as the said Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XIV. had already sufficiently provided for that blessing in his Constitution Pia Mater already quoted.
Finally, his Holiness desires and enjoins that this present list of Indulgences, now revised and corrected for the greater convenience of the faithful, be printed in Latin and Italian, and in any other language, provided that each such version have the approbation of the Holy See, or of the S. Congr. of Indulgences; but it is not to be printed out of Rome in any language before this approbation has been obtained; all other decrees, constitutions, or impositions to the contrary, however minutely specified, notwithstanding.
All the Indulgences mentioned in the aforesaid summary may be obtained by any of the faithful who possess any of the crosses, chaplets, or rosaries which have touched the Holy Places and Sacred Relics of the Holy Land, by the concession of the Venerable Pope Innocent XI., as appears by his brief Unigeniti Dei Filii, of January 28th, 1688, confirmed by Pope Innocent XIII., in a decree of the S. Congr. of Indulgences of June 5, 1721, prohibiting the selling of these crosses, &c. after they have touched these Sacred Relics, or the exchange of them for other wares, or the lending of them for the purpose of communicating the Indulgences to others. See also decrees of the same Sacred Congregation, March 11, 1721, and Feb. 11, 1722.