First Blessings and Masses of New Priests

There is an urban legend out there to the effect that there is a plenary indulgence available to anyone who receives a “first blessing” from a new priest within a year of his ordination. This is false. No such indulgence is found in the Handbook of Indulgences or in any other authoritative and current source. Perhaps there were some indulgences like this granted in the past under certain conditions. They would not apply now.

HOWEVER, it IS possible for a new-priest-to-be to request a plenary indulgence for those who attend his “first Masses” (i.e., first several Masses that he celebrates — for example, in his home parish, then in the parish where he did a seminarian summer, then in the parish where he did deacon weekends in seminary, etc. — usually these are all stylized as “first Masses”, and for most guys perhaps there are anywhere from one to three or four of them over the course of a week or more).


  1. Download and print this form (PDF) from the Apostolic Penitentiary’s web site (which, strangely, is now only available in Italian – they used to have an English section). N.B.: It is formatted for A4 paper (size used in Europe), so you may have to “fit to size” when you print it so that it will fit on our paper, which is slightly different.
  2. Fill it out (I provide a key below).
  3. Mail it to the Penitentiary using the address provided at the bottom, or fax it, or scan and email it to them. If you mail it, be sure to put “VATICAN CITY-STATE” so that our postal service understands; i.e., do not use the Italian “Città del Vaticano”.
  4. They will mail you back a decree granting the indulgence, usually written in Latin. Then you get to figure out what the Latin says! If you have emailed them, they will often email you back a scan of the decree and then send the original in the regular mail afterwards.
  5. The Penitentiary responds promptly to most requests.

Here is a key for understanding the form that I linked to. The Italian is in CAPS and the English is in Mixed Case.

PRIME SS. MESSE = First Holy Masses

COGNOME = Last Name (of the one requesting)

NOME = First Name (of the one requesting)

DATA DI ORDINAZIONE = Date of Priestly Ordination

LUOGO DI ORDINAZIONE = Place of Priestly Ordination

TITOLO DELLA CHIESA = Name of the Church/Cathedral of Ordination

LOCALITÀ E DIOCESI = City/State of the Church/Cathedral and Diocese

VESCOVO ORDINANTE = Bishop Who Will Ordain You

DATE E LUOGHI DELLE PRIME SANTE MESSE etc. = Date and Places of the First Holy Masses (it says to include date, name of the church, city/state, and diocese in which located)

COMMENDATIZIA (NIHIL OBSTAT) DEL RETTORE = Recommendation and Nihil Obstat of the Rector of the Seminary (it is sufficient for him to write “NIHIL OBSTAT”, sign his name, write his title, and put the seminary’s seal on it – Italian bureaucracy loves seals and stamps)

INDIRIZZO AL QUALE SPEDIRE IL DECRETO = Address to Which the Decree of Indulgence Should Be Mailed – i.e., your mailing address, formatted for international mailing

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What a great grace it will be if a newly-ordained priest can announce at his first Masses that a plenary indulgence is available under the usual conditions to those who attend – and perhaps even be able to help the people complete the conditions by offering them the Sacrament of Confession also!

* Since one of the usual conditions for a plenary indulgence is to pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, it would be good to plan to say an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be after the post-communion prayer “for the Holy Father’s intentions” as well!

* * *

UPDATE 5/16/2019I have received reports of long response times from the Apostolic Penitentiary to these requests. Perhaps they have a staffing shortage. It would probably be wise for any seminarian-deacon to have his request ready to go and send it off the minute he receives his Call to Orders. I hope it works out!

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