Resources - Church Candles History
Significance of Candles in worship
Consumed as it burns, a candle is a visible sign of Christ's self-offering. The light from the burning candle is representative of Christ, the light of the world. As the candle burns, it sacrifices itself, symbolic of the sacrifice our Lord made for mankind. For this reason the use of "artificial candles" is discouraged in the worship area of the church. Manufactures of fuel lamps have gone to great measure to produce " artificial candles" that closely imitate the appearance of the beeswax candle. however, the symbolic self-consumption produces by the beeswax candle cannot be duplicated by artificial candle. As a means of expressing spiritual idea the church, from the days of the Christian in the catacombs of Rome, has prescribed that candle be used during liturgical functions.
Different Types of Religious Candles
These candles are burned during the liturgy or church service. Placed in candelabra or candlesticks upon or adjacent to the altar, they are burned with candle follower. Manufactured primarily of Beeswax and/or paraffin wax blends. Available in a wide variety of sizes, the most common diameters are 7/8", 1-1/2", and 2".
Encased in glass or plastic containers and burned within Glass gloves either suspended or placed on stands in the Sanctuary, the Sanctuary light is burned a a constant reminder of God's presence in the church. The lights are designed with burn times ranging from six to fourteen days. The most popular lights are encased in glass containers and burn into the eighth day, to insure that with weekly replacement there is continuity of the flame as it is transferred from the old light to the new.
Sacramental candles are used during the occasions of Baptisms, Confirmations and the exchange of Wedding vows. These candles are preserved as heirlooms by the family. They are intended to be lit at future anniversaries as a reminder of faith.
Early Christian traditions established the use of the Advent Wreath and Advent Candles in anticipation of the celebration of the birth of our Lord at Christmas. As the Advent candles visibly burn down, they mark the passage of time until Christmas Day. Congregation Candles refer to two different types of candles used by members of the congregation during candlelight services. The first type is knows as a votive candle. Votive candles are small 1/2" diameter candles measuring between 4" and 7" tall that are held by members of the congregation during candlelight services, most commonly on Christmas Eve. These candles should not be confused with votive lights, which are round or slightly tapered candles designed for devotional prayer for a specific length of burn in glass or plastic containers. Congregational Tapers, (Easter Vigil Candles) are candles utilized in connection with liturgical services surrounding the passion, death, and resurrection of Our Lord at Easter. Congregational tapers are slim candles distributed and used by the congregation during the Easter Vigil service. The Christ candle, burned in the center of the Advent wreath, at the Thanksgiving Day meal, and at Church council meetings etc, provides a reminder of God's presence as expressed by Jesus' words "Where two or more are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst of them." The Paschal Candle, large, often finely decorated, is lit during the Easter Vigil service, symbolizing Christ, the Light of the World. The paschal candle is traditional burned during weekly services and at major liturgical celebrations throughout the year.