Apocryphal Indulgences

It has been brought to our attention that the indulgences attached to the "Devotion to the Drops of Blood Lost by Our Lord Jesus Christ on His Way to Calvary" and "Prayer to the Shoulder Wound of Jesus" prayers were declared apocryphal in the Acta Sanctae Sedis (Acts of the Holy See), a monthly publication in Rome from 1865 to 1908 which contains principal declarations of the Pope and the Roman congregations. Its contents were declared official and authentic in 1904. Leaflets containing prayers with improper indulgences attributed to them were prohibited altogether.

The complete "Acta Sanctae Sedis" is available on the Vatican website. The specific texts and translation regarding the above mentioned prayers are provided below.

In lieu of this information we will no longer offer the "Drops of Blood" and "Shoulder Wound" prayer cards.

Also, promises to free one or more souls from Purgatory by the recitation of some prayer are prohibited, e.g. specifying that "1,000" souls will be released by saying the "Prayer of St. Gertrude" (see ASS 32, p. 243 of the "Acta Sanctae Sedis" below). We have revised the Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great card to reflect the approved version of the prayer and the correct reference to the number of souls released which is found in Fr. O'Sullivan's booklet "Read Me or Rue It". We read in this booklet: Our Lord showed St. Gertrude a vast number of souls leaving Purgatory and going to Heaven as a result of this prayer, which the Saint was accustomed to say frequently during the day. The booklet has the "Approval of His Eminence the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon - Cardinal's Palace, Lisbon March 4, 1936�. The following approval attached many times to the Prayer of St. Gertrude is a misprint: "Approval and recommendation (sgd.) M. Cardinal Pahiarca at Lisbon, Portugal, on March 4, 1936" (D. Manuel Gon�alves Cerejeira was Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon from 1929 - 1971).

We appreciate anyone bringing these issues to our attention and apologize for any confusion offering these cards has caused.

We recommend substituting the Seven Offerings of the Precious Blood; The Way of the Cross; Prayer and Invocations to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; Devotion to the Holy Face; etc. for the "Drops of Blood" and "Shoulder Wound" prayers.

Along with the St. Gertrude card we recommend the Litany for the Poor Souls card and reading the booklet Read Me or Rue It to aid the Poor Souls in Purgatory.


Acta Sanctae Sedis
(Acts of the Holy See))

ASS 31, p. 727

Ad hanc Sacram Congregationem Indulgentiis sacrisque reliquiis praepositam plura delata sunt foli�la quae preces referunt cum indiscretis indulgentiis eisdem attributis, ac proinde iure meritoque de illarum authenticitate grave dubium obortum est. Porro haec S. Congregatio, ne Christifideles diu in errorem pertrahantur, utque, hisce praesertim temporibus, Ecclesiae hostibus omnis e medio tollatur praetextus irridendi inaestimabilem Indulgentiarum thesaurum, qui pie, sancte et incorrupte est administrandus, sui muneris esse duxit haec foli�la ad examen revocare, et siquidem repertum est in illis promulgari Indulgentias falsas, apocryphas et omnino indiscretas, haud cunctandum existimavit quin praefata foli�la prohibeantur, et in eisdem assertae Indulgentiae declararentur apocryphae et falsae.

Quare Emi Patres in generalibus Comitiis ad Vaticanum sub die 5 Maii 1898 coadunati, omnibus mature perpensis, unanimi suffragio rescripserunt : praefata foli�la ad hanc Sacram Congregationem delata fore omnino proscribenda, eisque adnexas, uti dictitatur, Indulgentias apocryphis et falsis esse accensendus.

De quibus dein facta relatione SSilio Domino Nostro Leoni Pp. XIII in audientia habita die 26 Maii 1898 ab infrascripto Cardinali Praefecto, Sanctitas Sua Emorum Patrum sententiam approbavit et confirmavit, mandavitque expediri generale Decretum quo infra inserta foli�la, vel si quae existunt alia ab his parum discrepantia etiamsi diversis edita typis, proscriberentur et Indulgentiae in eisdem relatae omnino uti falsae et apoeryphae damnarentur.


Several leaflets have been passed on to this eminent Sacred Congregation of Indulgences and Holy Relics. These leaflets contain prayers with improper indulgences attributed to them and hence serious doubts have arisen regarding their authenticity. Thus, lest Christ's faithful be drawn into error for an extended time and in order that all pretext for the enemies of the Church for ridiculing the inestimable treasure of Indulgences be removed, especially in these times, the Sacred Congregation, which is run in a way that is pious, holy, and incorrupt, took it to be its duty to put these leaflets under examination, and, since it was found that there were false, improper, and apocryphal Indulgences promulgated in them, saw fit that the aforementioned leaflets be prohibited without delay, and the Indulgences claimed by them be declared apocryphal and false.

Whence the most eminent Fathers gathered together in a general meeting at the Vatican on May 5, 1898, having weighed everything well, have unanimously decided the following: the aforementioned leaflets brought before this Sacred Congregation are to be altogether prohibited, and the Indulgences attached to them are to be considered false and apocryphal.

Which things having been passed on to His Holiness our Lord Pope Leo XIII in the audience held with the aforementioned Cardinal Prefect on May 26, 1898, His Holiness approved and confirmed the sentence of the eminent Fathers, and commanded that a general Decree be sent out by which the aforementioned leaflets or those differing but little according to various editions, be prohibited and that the Indulgences claimed by them be altogether condemned as false and apocryphal.

N.B. -- The drops of blood appears as leaflet 8� the shoulder wound as leaflet 3.

ASS 32, p. 243.

Reiicienda sunt folia, et libelli, in quibus promittitur fidelibus unam alteramve precem recitantibus liberatio unius vel plurium animarum a Purgatorio : et Indulgentiae quae dictae promissioni adiici solent ut apocryphae habendae sunt.


Rule 8. The leaflets and booklets which promise the faithful that they will free one or more souls from Purgatory by the recitation of some prayer or another are to be rejected : and the Indulgences which are wont to be attached to the said promise are to be held as apocryphal.