Curious about the colors of the candles

Why do people light candles in church? And does the colors really matter? Do they have meaning?Like, Green for prosperity?

Candle represent our prayers to God. Colors don’t matter. Using certain colors to make a prayer “more potent” or something is superstition with is condemn by the Church. It is okay to use certain colors for symbolic reasons (e.g. advent wreath) but it should never cross into the realm of thinking the color affect the efficacy of the prayers.

Certain very specific candles do have meanings to their colors.

The Easter candle is always white. It is lit during the Easter season and for all baptisms.

The red candle near the tabernacle indicates whether there are consecrated hosts present. Since Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in Communion, it indicates that Jesus is present physically, and that we must genuflect before entering the pew.

Advent candles are purple and pink to represent the four weeks before Christmas.

Beyond that, I don’t think there are any other specific meanings for any of the other candles, other than I think altar candles are traditionally white.

Red is the most common, but I’ve seen sanctuary lamps that are blue and also white. I don’t believe the color is prescribed.

Ours is actually a white candle in a red glass shade (atleast when I’ve seen it changed out). Some parishes also use an oil lamp instead of a candle. I know there used to be fairly strict requirements for colors of candles during the liturgy, but I don’t know that they are prescribed anymore other than perhaps the paschal candle. I’m not even sure if that is required to be white.

Never heard of colored candles meaning something… I would say if they were doing that it would be wrong. I would bet the candle’s glass container’s color is just for decoration, variation. I don’t believe there is any meaning to it.

Yup. The color of the glass is inconsequential, just the preference of the parish.
Advent candles are something else entirely, their colors match the liturgical colors.

Never seen green candles anywhere. Except maybe the grocery store ones for personal devotional use at home. :shrug:

I’d agree that they (generally) match the liturgical colors, but there is nothing in the rubrics, AFAIK, that require it. It is more a matter of little t tradition. I’ve seen wreaths with all purple candles; with 4 silver and a gold candle that was lite at Christmas Day; even four white candles.

I hope noone gets me wrong; I am a huge proponent of the symbolic use of colors, et cetera, but strictly speaking the colors of the candles are generally considered irrelevant. I just don’t want anyone to freak out and say, “Oh no, we use periwinkle candles for Marian feasts. Does that mean we deny XYZ?”. (You know there is someone that is going to think along those lines)

We used to use unbleachef candles around a coffin

I’m assuming the OP was referring to the votive candles that are often available and a small donation requested, often under a statue or near a side altar.

I am not aware of any specific color being attached to a certain type of petition. I generally just choose one randomly.

Never seen green candles anywhere

I’ve seen green votive candles many, many times.

That’s primarily what I was thinking in my original reply. We have white candles in an array of red, blue, clear, and green glass holders. When I see things like “green for prosperity” it implied to me some type of mystic connection to prayers being granted because of the color of votive.

Perhaps I was simply reading in things that weren’t there because of my foray into neopaganism in my late teens. Those experiences likely colored my perception of tying colors to intent.

LOL. Right.
I remember our liturgy committee wanted to switch to the midnight blue for Advent, to differentiate rom Lent, but Father opposed the purchase of all new items just fro the sake of “color”.
And we had one pastor who had the Advent wreath(s) , 4 of them in the four corners of the Narthex. They were hard to light…tall ladders and all.

Sometimes we do get carried away, no? :slight_smile:

Wow, I’ve never even seen the glass holders in any church catalog. :shrug:

I’ve only seen the blue in Ireland.
Most places in this Archdiocese in the SE, and at home in the American SW use red.

Color really doesn’t matter. They all look peaceful when lit and flickering. :wink:

The most common ones here in our neck of the woods are blue, red, and clear, but green is found and sometimes yellow/amber.

Candles are a votive offering…they are, as it were, a present or gift. Some people will bring or offer flowers or bouquets to adorn the Church or a shrine and others will light candles or, in older places such as places in Europe, oil lamps. The candles symbolise the prayers of the person who offers them and continue to burn after the person has left the Church or shrine.

You might find this article interesting: ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/CANDLES.htm

As for the colors of candles, candles used at the altar should be white or a slight variation thereof (unbleached, ivory, etc.)

Traditionally, the sanctuary lamp burns red to indicate that the Blessed Sacrament resides in the tabernacle. As others have indicated, this effect is achieved by placing the candle or lamp in glass that is red.

Advent wreaths, when used in the sanctuary, typically are 3 purple and 1 rose candle. This is an innovation introduced since my ordination…it is something which may be done as a devotional or pious expression but which the liturgy does not prescribe in the way that it prescribes the paschal candle.

As for the glass followers used in front of shrines, statues, images, etc., there is no symbolism really with the colours of the glass followers the candles are placed in…except that I have many times seen all blue used at Marian shrines since blue is a color associated with Our Lady.

I remember when visiting the Oratoire Saint Joseph in Montreal many many years ago that they had cleverly used the enormous phalanx of votive candles that descended in I know not how many rows to spell out “Saint Joseph Priez Pour Nous.” They did this by using white followers for certain candles that were surrounded by glass guards in other colours. This was at the foot of the enormous statue that was a central focus to the pilgrim experience. It was quite remarkable as well as tastefully executed. The photo below does not do justice to the experience in person.

saltandlighttv.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/st_joseph_oratory.jpg

In my country, we have specific candle colors for specific intentions. Mostly done in shrines, rarely done in parishes.

I forgot what these colors mean, I might haver to look through my archives to find a flyer from the local Marian shrine.

Anyway this is a local custom, I don’t think this would be applicable outside the Philippines

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