The History Behind The Candles

When you walk into any Catholic church, one of the first things you will see is an abundance of candles. From candles lining the altar and near the tabernacle to glowing in front of the various statues in the church, there is likely not a single direction you can look in without seeing a candle. While they are beautiful and create a wonderful ambiance, you have likely asked the question, “how did all of these candles come to be?”. We are here to educate you on the history of the candles in the Catholic church so that the next time you walk into your church, you can appreciate the candles even more! If your Catholic church could use some new candles, check out our online catalogue today!

The Meaning of the Candle in Catholic Faith

As far back as the eighth century, the word “candle” made its way into the English language and was used in relation to liturgical practices. It is believed that the word “candle” originally came from the Latin verb, candeo, which means to shine, glow, or burn.

Now that we know the origin of the word, let’s take a look into how candles became so widely used within the Catholic church. The “perfect candle” began to represent Christ as The Light of the World. If you want to dive into the description of how this came to be, check out the first John 1: 4-9.

You have likely noticed that many of the candles in the Catholic church generally look the same. Tall, white, and sometimes decorated with different wraps or engravings. Ring a bell? You might think they are just plain candles with not much thought behind them, but think again. More often than not, these candles are made from beeswax, and for a very intentional reason.

The worker bees that gather the nectar used to make the beeswax that results in the candle are pure. What we mean is, they don’t participate in the reproduction of their species. Their main mission is to go out, gather the nectar from the flowers, and return to the hive to feed the baby bees. It is only the queen and her drone bees that reproduce to keep the species alive. Because the virgin worker bees’ sole purpose is creating the beeswax and keeping the hive nourished, they have come to represent the Virgin mother.

Reasons Certain Candles Are Used

Now that we know the origin of the candle and how it became so prominent in the Catholic church, let’s look at the different candles and the reasons they are used.

  • Paschal Candle - Generally several feet tall and decorated with great detail, the paschal candle is a unique Easter candle that is used as a reminder to reflect and share the light of Christ in your daily life.

  • Altar Candle - Also as a reminder of Christ as the lighting of the world, altar candles represent the triumphant joy in the presence of Christ. There are many reasons why an altar candle is used, including which Mass is being celebrated, to light the entrance and recessional processions of the Mass, and more.

  • Candlemas Candles - Each year on February 2, the Catholic church celebrates the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and the Purification of Mary, also known as Candlemas. On this day, the church has a special procession and blessing of candles.

Light Up Your Church With Candles Today!

If your church could use some new candles, St. Jude Shop has everything you need. From paschal candles and altar candles to candlemas candles and more, we have it all. Just visit our online store to stock up on everything you need.