Thursday, June 12, 2008


The last of the candles we will consider in this series are vigil candles. Traditionally when one has an intention that is carried in prayer a candle may be lit to “stand vigil” offering the prayer on behalf of the person. It is an expression of our prayerful vigilance and hope. It is usually lit before some image or placed in a sacred space with the hope of intercession but it does not necessarily need to be before an such an image or space. Vigil candles can just as easily burn in one’s window or some other suitable place. Sometimes the candle itself will have a message or image printed on its casing that acts as a reminder of who is being called upon for intercession. Candles may be of short or long duration lasting from a couple of hours to as long as a week.

It seems to be a natural instinct for man to create something to stand in his stead when he is unable to keep vigil himself. One might think of the Wailing Wall in which the devoted place prayers on small pieces of paper leaving them in the cracks between the rocks. In more modern times one need only think of roadside shrines where there has been a death and those who love them setting up a version of shrine that may have a cross, flowers, and in many cases plush animals. They all call out, “Here I prayed. Here stands my thoughts and hopes. Here I want my prayer remembered. Pray for me!”

If you would like candles blessed for home use of course you could always have a clergyman bless it for you, but it is not strictly necessary. Candles are traditionally blessed on Candlemas Day. This feast, on 2 February, marks the Presentation of the Lord. Before the mass candles are blessed and when properly marked there is a procession in which lit candles are held. In many parishes people bring candles to be blessed or candles are provided for use in the home as vigil and prayer candles.


Anonymous said...

I've got novena candles all over my house and always get them blessed before I use them. Of course, it's church has a gift shop so I buy them there and step out and...there's Father!

I think I've used up my quota of blessings, though..

ashley said...

What about the candles used for the blessing of throats on the Feast of St. Blase?