Are electric votive candles sacramentals?


There is another thread about votive candles on the traditional forum, but I did not want to derail that thread any further and thought this is a different topic.

If I am correct, votive candles are considered sacramentals. A lot of parishes have replaced their votive candles with electric faux candles. But are these fake candles actually sacramentals? If they are not, why should we even use them?

Can. 1166 Sacramentals are sacred signs by which effects, especially spiritual effects, are signified in some imitation of the sacraments and are obtained through the intercession of the Church.

Can. 1167 §1. The Apostolic See alone can establish new sacramentals, authentically interpret those already received, or abolish or change any of them.

§2. In confecting or administering sacramentals, the rites and formulas approved by the authority of the Church are to be observed carefully.



We shouldn’t be. They are not permitted.


How is a votive candle defined? Is it written that it must be consumed by fire, or that it must be made from beeswax, or some such restriction? Or perhaps we should ask what is the essential principle underlying our practice of votive candles?



That seems to only define candles for liturgical use. How does it apply to votive candles?


The last line addresses candles for devotional use, i.e. votive candles:

In the interests of authenticity and symbolism, it is likewise most unfitting that so-called vigil lights be used for devotional purposes.


Personally, I have never seen beeswax used for votive candles. The cost would be prohibitive since beeswax is very expensive. But altar candles must be at least %51 beeswax unless things have changed. All of the votive candles I have seen are made of parrifiin,

I have seen plastic tubes that burn oil used as altar candles, even though that is not kosher.


Thanks for the info.




That doesn’t really clinch it for me. The Church sometimes make polite, reserved statements like this, when the meaning is “Electric vigil lights simply do not qualify as sacramentals.” However, often the meaning is more straightforward, and the more straightforward meaning of the quoted sentence is “We do not like the use of electric vigil lights at all.” Which does not suggest that the disliked lights are not sacramentals.:shrug:


It becomes a sacramental via the blessing it is give according to the Church. In order to receive this blessing, the candle must be at least 51% beeswax.


I like a concise answer! Do you have a source for this 51% number?


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