Credence table question

I am using processional candles for my altar servers and was wondering, are they placed on the the credence table or altar? And is there a right or wrong on this one?

Thanks for any help!

I really have no idea what the proper rubric is for the placement of the processional candles (if said rubric even exists), but at my parish, the candles are placed on the floor on either side of the stand for the processional cross.

Thanks Wonko :slight_smile: from what I’m getting they are traditionally placed on the credence table but I know what kind you are talking about that your parish has. I don’t know what the rubric is either.

What kind of candle-stands do you have?
This one?
Or maybe this one?

Because it all depends on the type of stand you use…

The short ones which is why I wondering if we place them on the credence table…

The short ones?
On the floor or on the credence table should be fine (correct me if i’m wrong, someone).
I don’t think it’d be proper to place them on the altar. They have their own candles.

Well this is my thinking…

It would seem to me that the credence table is not a good place either.Perhaps someone could enlighten us if processional candles are supposed to be the table top kind. When we used processional candles they were the kind that were placed in a stand which was adjacent to the altar on either side.

Putting them on the credence table seems like a bad idea for me. Of course I can only refer to the credence table at my parish…which is already crowded with things and candles would make it worse.

The processional candles we use are taken into the sacristy. They are out of the way - and not likely to be disturbed. The servers get them for the Gospel. I would think the credence table would be too small in most cases. The floor might work, but they could get knocked over by traffic". I know of one church where the processional candles and the top part of floor-stand altar candles - and they are simply placed on the stand.

Never checked, but I doubt the rubrics say anything on the matter.

I found these sites:

Just for info…we have the small kind which the candel itself seperates from the stand. The stands are meant for a table not the floor. Our priest bought these recently so I wanted to make sure my altar servers use them correctly. They will be using them for the procession and the gospel reading, something this parish hasn’t done in years. I was trying to figure out if they can walk over and get the candels from the altar for the reading or should they be getting them from the credence table?

Processional candles got to the sacistry. Only to return for the exit procession, if the alter boys remeber them. they seem to forget somethimes.

here we are only allowed to have the actual vessels, towel etc. needed for the Mass, candles go in stands on either side of the altar. For the Easter vigil and big occassions like that with more candles, they are banked against the “old” altar against the back wall where the tabernacle is.

Interesting, I guess it’s one of those things that’s not written in stone.

Some churches have stands for the processional candles, however at both my normal parish and the TLM I serve at the acolytes carry large candlesticks that are placed on a side table in the Sanctuary. Often the credence table is too small, and if you try to put too much on it you risk knocking over the cruets or the bells or the thurible (if you dont have a thurible stand) when the servers retrieve their candles for processions.

Generally candles should not be placed on the credence table.

The exception is for the Stational Mass of the Diocesan Bishop, where putting candles on the credence table is clearly an option:
“129 It is preferable that the processional cross be placed near the altar and serve as the altar cross; otherwise it is put away. The candlesticks are placed near the altar or on a side table or at some nearby place in the sanctuary (chancel).”
(Ceremonial of Bishops, Liturgical Press, 1989, ISBN 0-8146-1818-9, page 52).

For a normal Mass the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) applies. It makes no mention of putting candles on the credence table. It has:
“122. On reaching the altar, the priest and ministers make a profound bow. The cross adorned with a figure of Christ crucified and perhaps carried in procession may be placed next to the altar to serve as the altar cross, in which case it ought to be the only cross used; otherwise it is put away in a dignified place.** In addition, the candlesticks are placed on the altar or near it.**. It is a praiseworthy practice that the Book of the Gospels be placed upon the altar.”

This seems to say that the processional candles are to be the altar candles. It describes the procession and what is to happen with the candles in the procession. Does “near” the altar mean on the credence table? I doubt it.
Similarly in this section from the 2002 GIRM, approved for the USA, which can be accessed from

“*The Articles to Be Prepared *
117. The altar is to be covered with at least one white cloth. In addition, on or next to the altar are to be placed candlesticks with lighted candles: at least two in any celebration, or even four or six, especially for a Sunday Mass or a holy day of obligation. If the Diocesan Bishop celebrates, then seven candles should be used. Also on or close to the altar, there is to be a cross with a figure of Christ crucified. The candles and the cross adorned with a figure of Christ crucified may also be carried in the Entrance Procession.”

By saying “The candles” is seems to be saying: “The candles for the altar … may be carried in procession.”

Candles can be used when the Gospel is read. Where do they come from? The altar is indicated, because taking the Books of the Gospels from the altar is mentioned along with the lighted candles. From the 2002 GIRM:
“133. If the Book of the Gospels is on the altar, the priest then takes it and goes to the ambo, carrying the Book of the Gospels slightly elevated and preceded by the lay ministers, who may carry the thurible and the candles. Those present turn towards the ambo as a sign of special reverence to the Gospel of Christ.”

Similarly in n. 175: “… The deacon signs himself with the Sign of the Cross and responds, Amen. Having bowed to the altar, he then takes up the Book of the Gospels which was placed upon it. He proceeds to the ambo, carrying the book slightly elevated. He is preceded by a thurifer, carrying a thurible with smoking incense, and by servers with lighted candles. …”.

These candles, for the Gospel, are clearly optional, from the Order of Mass of the Roman Missal: “Then the deacon (or the priest) goes to the lectern. He may be accompanied by ministers with incense and candles.” (Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1985, page 367). The 2002 Latin edition has “pro opportunitate” indicating that this is optional.

Lighted candles on the credence table give it a prominence that is clearly not intended by this part of the GIRM:
“307. The candles, which are required at every liturgical service out of reverence and on account of the festiveness of the celebration (cf. above, no. 117), are to be appropriately placed either on or around the altar in a way suited to the design of the altar and the sanctuary so that the whole may be well balanced and not interfere with the faithful’s clear view of what takes place at the altar or what is placed on it.”

Thank you John, this is very helpful. I just talked to my priest on the phone and he did say the processional candels can go on the altar. The cruets and everything else go on the credence table…which is great because this is way we have been practicing with the kids.

yes, I was thinking this as well. I think what we have been doing is fine.

Accordinating to “Ceremonies of the Catholic Church,” the creadence table would be the proper place for them. However, if they are also to be used as the altar candles they may be placed on the altar.
By the way, the long candle sticks the 4 -5 foot ones) are called torches; and in a procession the servers carying the short candlesticks come before the servers carying the torches.

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