This Day, Archbishop Zimowski explained, is “a unique moment of reflection, of renewed attention and commitment, on behalf of everyone, to all to the problems inherent to caring for life, health, and suffering. In particular, the Holy Father … emphasizes that its celebration should be strongly characterized by prayer, sharing, and offering up suffering for the good of the Church, as well as serving as a call so that everyone might recognize, in the face of their sick brother or sister, the face of Christ who, suffering, dying, and rising, saved humanity.”

The Pope’s text challenges us “to let the figure of the Good Samaritan call to us”. It is a Gospel narrative that constitutes a “parable that is paradigmatic and ever-topical for all of the Church’s action, especially her outreach in the area of health, disease, and suffering.” In the story “Jesus, with his actions and words, reveals God’s deep love for every human being, above all those suffering illness or pain.” The Pope, however, “puts the emphasis on the end of the parable when Jesus … concludes with an urgent mandate: ‘Go and do likewise’.”

“This is,” the archbishop continued, “an incisive mandate because with these words Jesus shows us what, even today, the attitude and behavior of His disciples with others, especially those in need of care, must be. Looking to how Christ acted, therefore, we can understand God’s infinite love, can feel ourselves to be part of this love, and sent to show it with our care and our closeness to all those in need of help because of being wounded in body and in spirit. But this capacity to love cannot come solely from our efforts, but rather is born of our being in constant relationship with Christ through a life of faith. From this stems the call and the duty of each Christian to be a ‘Good Samaritan’, who … is everyone who stops at the suffering of another, everyone who is sensitive to the suffering of others, everyone who is moved by the misfortunes of others, everyone who wants to try and be ‘God’s hands’.”

“Before concluding his message, the Holy Father pointed out the Year of Faith as ‘a propitious occasion for rediscovering the Good Samaritan and of living in imitation of him’: in imitation of his knowing how ‘to see with compassion’ and love someone who needed care and assistance; in his knowing how to bend down and pick up the needs of others’. …This is why it is useful to ‘turn our gaze’ to the many witnesses to the faith and their charitable self-giving. It can be said that the entire history of the Church … is marked by countless witnesses. The Pope indicates some of those who are closest to us in time: St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face; the venerable Luigi Novarese; Raoul Follereau; Blessed Teresa of Calcutta; and St. Anna Schaffer of Mindelstetten.”

“Blessed John Paul II, in the section of his Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris referencing the Good Samaritan, wrote: ‘At one and the same time Christ has taught man to do good by His suffering and to do good to those who suffer. In this double aspect He has completely revealed the meaning of suffering.’ In naming five Good Samaritans who are close to us in history, Benedict XVI takes into consideration both dimensions: St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face and St. Anna Schaffer do good out of their own suffering while the other three witnesses do good for those who are suffering.”



Vatican City, 28 January 2013 (VIS) – Benedict XVI will grant Plenary Indulgence to the faithful participating in the 21st World Day of the Sick to be celebrated 7–11 February, in Altotting, Germany according to a decree published today and signed by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro and Bishop Krzysztof Nykiel, respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

Persons following the example of the Good Samaritan, who “with a spirit of faith and a merciful soul, put themselves at the service of their brothers and sisters who are suffering or who, if sick, endure the pains and hardships of life … bearing witness to the faith through the path of the Gospel of suffering” will obtain the Plenary Indulgence, once a day and under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Holy Father), applicable also to the souls of deceased faithful:

A) each time from 7–11 February, in the Marian Shrine of Altotting or at any other place decided by the ecclesiastical authorities, that they participate in a ceremony held to beseech God to grant the goals of the World Day of the Sick, praying the Our Father, the Creed, and an invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Faithful in public hospitals or any private house who, like the Good Samaritan, charitably assist the ill and who, because of such service, cannot attend the aforementioned celebrations, will obtain the same gift of Plenary Indulgence if, for at least a few hours on that day, they generously provide their charitable assistance to the sick as if they were tending to Christ the Lord Himself and pray the Our Father, the Creed, and an invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, with their soul removed from attachment to any form of sin and with the intention of carrying out as soon as possible that which is necessary to obtain the plenary indulgence.

The faithful who because of illness, advance age, or other similar reasons cannot take part in the aforementioned celebrations will obtain the Plenary Indulgence if, with their soul removed from attachment to any form of sin and with the intention of carrying out as soon as possible the usual conditions, spiritually participating in the sacred events of the determined days, particularly through liturgical celebrations and the Supreme Pontiff’s message broadcast by television or radio, they pray for all the sick and offer their physical and spiritual suffering to God through the Virgin Mary, ‘Salus Infirmorum’ (Health of the Sick).

B) Partial Indulgence will be conceded to all the faithful who, between the indicated days, with a contrite heart raise devout prayers to the merciful Lord beseeching assistance for the sick in spirit during this Year of Faith.

Decree of Special Indulgence for 21st World Day of the Sick
VATICAN CITY, January 29, 2013 (


Special Indulgences in occasion of the XXI World Day of the Sick

The Redemption was accomplished through the Holy Cross of Christ, that is, through his passion. All human suffering, in truth, can participate in the redemptive suffering of the Lord; in fact, the Apostle Paul says: “in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church”(Col 1:24).

In the current Year of Faith, especially dedicated to the profession of the true faith and its correct interpretation, it is worth remembering the luminous teaching of the Second Vatican Council about the Christian meaning of suffering and of its sharing among the brethren: “Since the works of charity and mercy express the most striking testimony of the Christian life, apostolic formation should lead also to the performance of these works so that the faithful may learn from childhood on to have compassion for their brethren and to be generous in helping those in need”(Decree Apostolicam Actuositatem, 31c).

Therefore, driven by the desire that the annual celebration of the World Day of the Sick, this year especially solemn, may prove an ever more effective catechesis on the salvific meaning of suffering and may sensitize more all those who, for various reasons, are committed to the service of those who suffer in body and soul, the Holy Father has chosen as the theme of the twenty-first World Day of the Sick, which will be held from the 7th to 11th of the coming month of February, the Good Samaritan: “Go and do likewise”(Lk 10:37), which teaches man “to do good by his suffering and to do good to those who suffer” (Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, 30). At the end of the Day, on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, his Excellency Mons. Zygmunt Zimowski, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, Special Envoy of His Holiness, will preside at the Marian Shrine of Altötting, in the Diocese of Passau, a solemn Eucharistic celebration with the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

So that the faithful may prepare themselves spiritually to participate in the event in the best way, His Holiness Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted on the 18th of the current month of January, to the undersigned Cardinal Major Penitentiary and Regent of this Apostolic Penitentiary, has graciously bestowed the gift of Indulgences in the spirit of the following disposition, provided that the faithful, truly repentant and stimulated by charity, following the example of the Good Samaritan, in a spirit of faith and in a merciful disposition, put themselves at the service of their suffering brethren and, if they in turn are sick, bear the pains and hardships of life, raising their soul with humble trust to God and giving open witness to the faith through the way of the Gospel of suffering: 

A. The Plenary Indulgence, which the faithful, with truly repentant and contrite spirit, can obtain once a day under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the intentions of the Holy Father) and also apply in relief of the souls of the faithful departed, whenever, from the 7th to the 11th of this coming February, at the Marian shrine of Altötting or at any other place determined by the Ecclesiastical authority, they participate devoutly in a ceremony celebrated to implore from God the intentions of the World Day of the Sick and pray the Our Father, the Creed and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The faithful who in public hospitals or in any private home charitably assist, like the Good Samaritan, the sick and, as a result of their service, cannot participate in the above-mentioned functions, will obtain the same gift of the Plenary Indulgence, if in those set days for at least few hours they lend generously their charitable assistance as if they were doing it to Christ the Lord (cf. Mt 25:40) and recite the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, in a spirit of total detachment from any sin and with the intention to fulfill as soon as possible the conditions required to obtain the Plenary Indulgence.

Lastly, the faithful who through sickness, old age or other such reasons, are prevented from taking part in the aforementioned ceremony, will obtain the Plenary Indulgence if, with their soul completely detached from any sin and with the intention of fulfilling the usual conditions as soon as possible, they participate spiritually in the sacred functions in the established days, especially while the Liturgical Celebrations and Message of the Supreme Pontiff are broadcast on television and radio, pray devoutly for all the sick and offer to God, through the Virgin Mary, Salus infirmorum, their physical and spiritual sufferings.

B. A Partial indulgence to all the faithful whenever they address to the merciful God, with a contrite heart, in the aforementioned days, fervent prayers for the sick in the spirit of the current Year of Faith.

This Decree is effective for this occasion. Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary.

Given in Rome, at the Offices of the Apostolic Penitentiary, 25 January 2013, on the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, concluding the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Manuel Cardinal Monteiro de Castro
Penitentiary Major

Mons. Krzysztof Nykiel

[00140-01.01] [Original text: Latin]

© Innovative Media, Inc.