A curiosity that I recently saw in a church in Central Rome that is not open very often: a plaque indicating that for every Mass celebrated at the high altar, one soul will be freed from Purgatory. This indulgence was granted by Pope Leo XIII.
This is in the church dedicated to the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi, right near Piazza Argentina.
As relatively unique as this special indulgence was, it no longer applies for at least two reasons:
1. Pope Paul VI abrogated most historic privileges like this, revising the system of indulgences to make it simpler (etc.). Unless this privilege was specifically renewed – and there was no indication that it was – then it no longer applies.
2. They no longer use the high altar (!), having inserted a freestanding altar in front of it in the sanctuary at some point in the last 30 or 40 years.
A pity for the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Fortunately, there are still many indulgences that we can gain on their behalf, even if this one is no longer available. Click here to see my other posts and learn more about this subject.