What's the deal with prayer candles?

What's the deal with prayer candles?

Ever wondered why lighting candles is such a big deal in the Catholic faith? Let's take a little dive into the beautiful tradition of prayer candles and what makes them so meaningful.

A Brief History Lesson

Way back in the early days of Christianity, candles were just practical—they lit up the night during services. But soon enough, they took on a deeper meaning, symbolizing Jesus Christ, the "Light of the World." This is something that even ties back to Jewish traditions of lighting candles for Sabbath and other holy days.

The Deeper Stuff

Light of Christ: When you light a candle, it’s like inviting Jesus to shine His light into the darkness of your life. It's a powerful reminder that He’s always with us, guiding our way.

Prayers and Intentions: Lighting a candle isn’t just about the flame; it’s about the prayers that go with it. The candle keeps burning, symbolizing your prayers continually rising up to God. It's like sending a little piece of your heart heavenward.

Hope and Remembrance: People often light candles during tough times or in memory of someone special. That gentle flicker of light becomes a symbol of hope, comfort, and the eternal presence of God.

Different Types of Prayer Candles

Votive Candles: These are the little candles you often see in front of statues or pictures of saints. Lighting one is a way of making a vow or asking for help with something specific.

Paschal Candle: This big, white candle is a star of the Easter Vigil. It stands for Jesus rising from the dead and bringing light to the world. It also shows up at baptisms and funerals, symbolizing new beginnings and eternal life.

Advent Candles: During Advent, you light a new candle each week leading up to Christmas. Each one stands for something special—hope, peace, joy, and love. It's a beautiful way to prepare for Jesus’s birth.

The Simple Act of Lighting a Candle

Lighting a candle might seem like a small act, but it’s filled with meaning. When you light that wick, you’re turning your prayer into something visible. It’s like giving your intentions a physical form, extending your faith into the world.

In many Catholic churches, you’ll find stands full of votive candles. Each little flame represents a prayer, creating a powerful sense of community and shared faith. It’s a beautiful sight and a heartfelt practice.

To Sum it All Up

Using prayer candles is a long-standing tradition that’s rich with symbolism and meaning. Whether it’s a small votive candle, the grand Paschal Candle, or the hopeful Advent candles, each flame is a reminder of Jesus’s light and the power of prayer. In a world that can sometimes feel pretty dark, lighting a candle is a simple but powerful way to connect with God and find hope.

Want to learn more about Catholic traditions or find some beautiful devotional goods including candles? Check out these handmade votives from yours truly. 


  1. Catechism of the Catholic Church
  2. Candles in Catholic Encyclopedia
  3. Liturgy of the Hours by USCCB
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