The word “candle” comes from the Latin verb “candeo” which means “to shine”. Using candles as a means of showing your devotion to the Holy Father or as a symbol of enlightenment and brilliance amidst darkness is an antediluvian practice. Devoted Catholics have been using different types of candles for various religious purposes since the inception of this very religion. Through lighting a candle in front of the Holy Father, His Son, and other angels, the followers of this religion offer their requests and prayers to God. Candles are also used as a symbol of benevolent influences so that evil devious forces that can bring harm and temptation to an individual are kept at bay.
In Catholicism, candles are used for multifarious occasions including Baptism, Holy Communion, Confirmation, etc. The shape, size, and even colour of the candles vary significantly from one ceremony to another. However, the material used for all of them is beeswax.
Candles for Different Occasions:
The Baptismal/Paschal/Easter Candle: This candle can be easily distinguished from the others because of its sui generis size and colourful decorations. A cross with five cloves and the year are generally imprinted on these candles. For the occasion of Easter, this candle signifies the resurrection of Jesus from the abysmal darkness to the illumination of sacredness. After this candle has been used for Easter or Baptism, they are lit throughout the year as a reminder of that Holy Sacrament. The imageries of this candle narrate the story of a new soul joining the God’s family.
The Altar Candles: Devoted Christians have been using altar candles since the 12th The sole purpose of altar candles is to represent Lord Jesus as the eternal light of the world. However, altar candles also represent the stern realities. In the beginning, these candles were generally used in the catacombs where they one altar candle was the only source of light.
Advent candles: Advent candles were a part of the ancient Germanic tradition and it was later adopted in Catholicism. Advent candles symbolise one thousand years in the history of salvation i.e. from the time of Adam and Eve to the birth of Christ.
Votive candles: Votive candles (also known as Devotional candles) are mainly used for prayers and offerings in congregations. The light of the votive candle represents a burnt sacrifice, reparation of vices, contrition, and adoration. Among all such candles, votive candles are used the most frequently in Christian churches.
Colours of Candles:
Despite being used for different occasions, candles also come in different colours that signify different aspects of Catholicism. Usually these candles come in:
- White: White candles epitomise the harmony, veracity, and wholeness of a spirit.
- Red: Red candles signify the eternal love and adoration along with fortitude to fight against the evil forces of nature.
- Blue: Deep blue coins are a symbol of laughter and happiness where the royal blue coins symbolise royalty.
Candles have an enlightening as well as an emphatic presence in Catholicism. With different colours and imageries they not only signify the benevolent qualities in the devout Christians but also help them connect with the Almighty spiritually.