Bishop designates 12 pilgrimage sites for indulgence Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Mar. 12, 2009 -- 12:00 AM

Following are the pilgrimage sites with information on why they were chosen and their general location.  


  • Catholic Parish of St. Raphael at St. Patrick Church — Diocesan cathedral (central)
  • St. Paul University Catholic Center — Church dedicated to St. Paul (central)
  •  Bishop O’Connor Center, Madison — Diocesan center (central)
  • St. Peter Parish — Historic rural parish dedicated to St. Peter, prince of Apostles (central)
  • All Saints Parish — Dedicated to all of the saints (far northeast)
  • St. Patrick Parish — Grave of Venerable Samuel Mazzuchelli (southwest)
  • St. Paul Parish — Church dedicated to St. Paul (southeast)
  • St. Clement Parish — Historic centrally located parish (southwest)
Mineral Point
  • Congregation of St. Mary/St. Paul — Church dedicated to St. Paul (central)
  • St. Luke Parish — Historic rural parish dedicated to St. Luke, who is associated with St. Paul (west)
  • St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish — Oldest church in the diocese (northeast)
  • St. Henry Parish — Historic city parish (east)

Some information in this article was obtained from an article in the Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.


MADISON — Bishop Robert C. Morlino has designated 12 pilgrimage sites in the Diocese of Madison where the faithful can receive a plenary, or full, indulgence during the Jubilee Year of St. Paul.

Pope Benedict XVI established the Pauline year to run from June 28, 2008, to June 29, 2009, to mark the approximately 2,000th anniversary of St. Paul’s birth.

Catholics who participate in events connected with the jubilee year of St. Paul can receive a special indulgence. An indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment a person is due for sins that have been forgiven. It can be granted on behalf of the individual petitioner or on behalf of departed souls.

During the Lenten season, with its focus on reconciliation, the plenary indulgence provides further incentive for Catholics to partake in the sacrament.

The conditions for receiving the plentary indulgence are: sacramental Confession, reception of the Eucharist, prayers for the pope’s intentions, total detachment from sin, and participation in a public act of devotion to the Apostle Paul at any of the 12 pilgrimage sites during the Pauline year or at any Catholic church by June 29.

Msgr. Daniel Ganshert, vicar general of the Diocese of Madison, also suggests that Catholics pray the Rosary or pray the Stations of the Cross while visiting one of the pilgrimage sites. He also suggested that people obtain a copy of a brochure on the Year of St. Paul published by Our Sunday Visitor. To obtain the brochure, write to 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750; phone 1-800-348-2440; fax 1-800-498-6709; or e-mail

Fr. John Paul Erickson, director of the Worship Office for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, explained the Church’s teachings on indulgences in an interview with Julie Carroll of the Catholic Spirit.

What are indulgences?

Indulgences are the removal of the temporal punishment due to sin.

A story is told of a young boy, “Tommy,” playing baseball in a neighborhood back alley. During the game, Tommy breaks the window of Mrs. Mulcahy’s house. With much trepidation, Tommy finally apologizes to Mrs. Mulcahy, who kindly forgives him. She also makes it clear, “But, Tommy, you still have to pay for my window.”

It’s similar in the spiritual life. When we sin, complete reconciliation with God and neighbor requires not only the forgiveness of God, ordinarily given in sacramental confession, but also some kind of “making up” for the offense.

This “making up” for our offenses is what we call “temporal punishment” due to sin. It ordinarily is experienced either through acts of penance here on earth or in the afterlife in what we call “purgatory.”

An indulgence is an act of the Church by means of which this temporal punishment is remitted through some act of devotion or piety, that is, some act of love.

Some actions carry “plenary” indulgences, as they alleviate all temporal punishment. A partial indulgence alleviates some portion of temporal punishment.

What are the rules to receive an indulgence?

To receive an indulgence, one must be baptized, in a state of grace, and in full communion with the Catholic Church.

A partial indulgence requires that the action be performed devoutly and with a spirit of contrition.

A plenary indulgence requires five things:

  •  The first, of course, is the fulfillment of the particular act. We have to participate in some act of love or devotion — for example, make a pilgrimage.
  •  No attachment to sin, even venial sin.
  •  Reception of holy Communion (may be a few days before or after the act).
  •  Reception of sacramental Confession (may be a few days before or after the act).
  •  Prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father (ideally on the day of the act).
How does one obtain the plenary indulgence in the Pauline year?

As a special way of marking this Jubilee Year of St. Paul, the Holy Father has made a plenary indulgence available to the Christian faithful when they make a pilgrimage to the papal Basilica of St. Paul [in Rome] in honor of the Apostle to the Gentiles and fulfill the usual conditions.

In order to make this grace more readily available to the faithful, the Holy Father has also allowed local bishops to designate certain churches within their territories as pilgrimage sites, in which this same plenary indulgence may be received when the faithful take part devoutly in a religious function or a public pious exercise of devotion to St. Paul. In the Diocese of Madison, 12 churches/chapels have been declared such sites.

Pious public exercises include, but are not limited to, Masses celebrated in honor of St. Paul, Liturgy of the Word services celebrated in honor of St. Paul, the public recitation of the rosary while meditating upon the life and writings of St. Paul, and Stations of the Cross that utilize the writings of St. Paul. The exercises should have a communal and public character to them.

Groups and individuals from around the diocese are encouraged to visit these parish churches in a spirit of pilgrimage, invoking the intercession of the Apostle to the Gentiles and uniting themselves to Christians around the world who are making similar pilgrimages.

Large groups planning to visit diocesan pilgrimage sites are asked to contact the sites before the visit in order to respect parish events and the particular schedule of the site.

Where did the idea for indulgences come from?

It began right in Scripture itself when Jesus gave to Peter and to the Church the keys to the Kingdom (Matthew 16:19), and the authority to bind and loose. (See also John 20:23.)

Why do you think that indulgences are becoming more popular again?

I think that part of it has to do with a renewed sense of the need for the sacrament of confession — a personal, private, auricular confession — and a renewed sense of sin and the damage it does, both to others but also to ourselves.

It is significant that the section of the Catechism dedicated to indulgences is found within the section dedicated to the sacrament of reconciliation (paragraphs 1422-1498). Both sacramental confession and indulgences are experiences of the mercy and forgiveness of our God.

It’s important to point out that the practice of granting indulgences, along with a belief in the temporal punishment due to sin, has never left us. I think people are becoming more and more aware of the richness of our faith, whether it’s indulgences, the recitation of the rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, Stations of the Cross  —  all of these very Catholic practices are very life-giving to people when they are experienced and explained in the right way.

Has the Church’s teaching on indulgences changed at all, especially since Vatican II?

In essence, no. The Church has always believed that she has the power, given to her by Jesus Christ and rooted in his own merits, to remove the temporal punishment due to sin.

In the particulars, that is, how an indulgence is obtained or explained, those might have changed, similarly to how the form of the sacrament of Confession has changed in its particulars over the years. But the essence of it has not changed. It’s been with us since the beginning.

I highly encourage people to avail themselves of the special grace of a Pauline pilgrimage to one of the diocesan pilgrimage sites.

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