Spiritual Privileges for Visitors

Special spiritual benefits are attached to the designation of a church as a minor basilica.  All Catholics who are properly disposed may seek a plenary indulgence by visiting the Basilica on specified days and by fulfilling the required conditions that are explained further down on this page.

A plenary indulgence may be gained on the following days by visiting the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception:

February 9th – date of the concession of the title of Minor Basilica in 2008

May 20th – day of the dedication, in 1928, of the Church of the Immaculate Conception

June 29th – Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul

August 14th – death in 1890 of Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus

December 8th – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Visitors may select on day each year to seek a plenary indulgence.

The practice of offering indulgences is directly related to the saving mission of Christ entrusted to the Church and is dependent upon the authority of the Holy Father, who bestows these favors in view of the Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ.  The spiritual benefits to be gained unite in charity the members of the Body of Christ, living and dead, and promote renewed repentance and reconciliation with God and with one another.  In essence, through the merits of Christ, indulgences foster growth in our baptismal relationship with the Holy Trinity and deepen love of neighbor, living and dead.


Indulgence Defined

An indulgence is a favor granted to an individual by the Church through the merits of Christ that removes, either partially or completely (plenary), the temporal punishment that remains for sins that have been forgiven.  Indulgences do not remove sin, that is, the guilt of sin.  Serious sin that has been confessed to a priest with sincere contrition and a resolve to sin no more, is forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance.  This Sacrament also removes the eternal punishment that such a grave offense against God would merit.  But, once forgiven, the wounds and effects of our sins remain and block the full action of the Holy Spirit within us.  The Church teaches that we must undergo temporal punishment in this life or after death, in Purgatory, to remove the effects of sin and prepare us for eternal happiness with God on Heaven.  Temporal punishment may be removed now by voluntarily uniting our sufferings in this life with those of Christ and by our prayer and acts of charity.  Temporal punishment also may be diminished or removed by a partial or plenary indulgence.


Who can gain an indulgence?

Catholics in full communion with the Church may obtain a plenary indulgence once a day for themselves or for themselves or for a soul in purgatory by carrying out a specified act of devotion with sincerity and in accord with the conditions set by the Church.  Those who seek an indulgence must be earnestly striving to eliminate all attachment to sin, whether moral or venial.

The act of devotion required to obtain the plenary indulgence attached to this Basilica on the days specified may be a devout visit to the Basilica with recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed.  In addition, the visit may include: Mass, Benediction, Liturgy of the Hours, Stations of the Cross, the Rosary or another devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, a period of adoration and meditation before the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reposed in the tabernacle or another pious action.


The three conditions to be fulfilled are:

  1. Sacramental Confession within 20 days prior or following the day the in indulgence is sought,
  2. Reception of Holy Communion, preferably on the day the indulgence is sought; and
  3. Prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father on the day the indulgence is sought.  This might be an Our Father and Hail Mary or other preferred prayers.