The Works of Mercy


The Spiritual Works of Mercy are oriented toward the soul. Though ideally applicable for all faithful, not everyone is considered capable or obligated to perform the first three Spiritual Works of Mercy be- fore they possess the proper tact, knowledge or canonical training to do so. The remaining four Spiritual Works of Mercy are considered to be an obligation of all faithful to practice unconditionally.

The Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy and their Holy Scripture references are:

Admonish the Sinner Proverbs 27:17

Luke 15:7; 17:3

2 Timothy 4:2

Instruct the Ignorant Matthew 28:19-20

Mark 16:14-18

Luke 24:47-49

John 20:21

2 Timothy 3:16-17; 4:1-5

Counsel the Doubtful Matthew 13:18-23

Mark 4:13-20; 9:14-29

Luke 8:11-15

John 14:27

Bear Wrongs Patiently Matthew 5:38-48

Luke 6:27-36

1 Peter 2:18-19

Forgive Offenses Willingly Matthew 6:14-15;  18:15-35

Mark 11:25

Luke 11:1-4; 17:1-4

Comfort the Afflicted Psalms 9:8-11;  22:23-27, Psalms 27:4-5;  30:2-4, Psalms 46:2; 55:22, Psalms 56; 71:20-22, Psalms 116;  119:49-50

Jeremiah 29:11-14

Lamentations 3:21-24,  31-33

Nahum 1:7-8

Matthew 11:28-30

John 14:15-18,  27;  16:22-23

2 Corinthians 5:17

1 Peter 5:5-11

Revelation 21:4

Pray for the Living and the Dead 2 Maccabees 38-46


The Corporal Works of Mercy are oriented toward the body. Six of the seven are mentioned in  Matthew 25:31-40  — although not precisely — as the reason for the salvation of the saved, while  Matthew 25:41-46 exhorts the omission of them as the reason for damnation. As deprivation of burial was viewed with horror by the Jews, the seventh Corporal Work of Mercy (Tobit 1:17-19) was later added.

The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy and their Holy Scripture references are:

Feed the Hungry Proverbs 22:9

Isaiah 58:10

2 Kings 4:42-44

Matthew 14:15-21; 25:35

Luke 3:11; 9:12-17

John 6:35

Give Drink to the Thirsty Isaiah 55:1

Matthew 25:35

John 6:35

John 7:37-39

Revelation 21:6;  22:17

Clothe the Naked Matthew 25:36
Shelter the Homeless Matthew 25:35
Visit the Sick Matthew 25:36
Visit the Imprisoned Matthew 25:36
Bury the Dead Tobit 1:17-19

Source: Diocese of Fort Worth, Indiana

In 2016, Pope Francis declared Care for Creation a Work of Mercy


The Works of Mercy by the Master of Alkmaar made for the Church of Saint Lawrence in Alkmaar, Netherlands. The wooden panels show the works of mercy in this order: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, bury the dead, shelter the traveler, comfort the sick, and free the imprisoned. Circa 1504. Source:Wikimedia Commons For more artistic representations go to Wikimedia Commons.

The Canadian Bishops Office for Evangelization and Catechesis have produced two resources to help teach the Corporal Works of Mercy Ages 6-8  |  ages 9-11

The Eight Works of Mercy by Anna Rowlands  & Robert Czerny (Thinking Faith) ‘In today’s world, hunger, violence and poverty cannot be understood apart from the changes and degradation affecting the environment.’ Pope Francis’ recognition of this led him to introduce an eighth work of mercy in 2016: ‘care for our common home’. Anna Rowlands and Robert Czerny survey the long and living tradition in which this new work of mercy stands.

 Infographics on Mercy

US Bishops and Works of Mercy  also see Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy during COVID-19

Jared Dees The Religion Teacher

Leave a Reply