About Maximapedia

Lights, Ceremonial Use Of

LIGHTS, CEREMONIAL USE OF. The ceremonial use of lights in the Christian Church, with which this article is mainly concerned, probably has a double origin: in a very Noa " natural symbolism, and in the adaptation of certain P a 8 an an d Jewish rites and customs of which the symbolic meaning was Christianized. Light is everywhere the symbol of joy and of life-giving power, as darkness is of death and destruction. Fire, the most mysterious and impressive of the elements, the giver of light and of all the good things of life, is a thing sacred and adorable in primitive religions, and fire-worship still has its place in two at least of the great religions of the world. The Parsis adore fire as the visible expression of Ahura-Mazda, the eternal principle of light and righteousness; the Brahmans worship it as divine and omniscient. 1 The Hindu festival of Dewali (Diyawali, from diya, light), when temples and houses are illuminated with countless lamps, is held every November to celebrate Lakhshmi, the goddess of prosperity. In the ritual of the Jewish temple fire and light played a conspicuous part. In the Holy of Holies was a " cloud of light " (shekinah), symbolical of the presence of Yahweh, and before it stood the candlestick with six branches, on each of which and on the central stem was a lamp eternally burning; while in the forecourt was an altar on which the sacred fire was never allowed to go out. Similarly the Jewish synagogues have each their eternal lamp; while in the religion of Islam lighted lamps mark things and places specially holy; thus the Ka'ba at Mecca is illuminated by thousands of lamps hanging from the gold and silver rods that connect the columns of the surrounding colonnade.

The Greeks and Romans, too, had their sacred fire and their ceremonial lights. In Greece the Lampadedromia or Lampade- phoria (torch-race) had its origin in ceremonies cone. nected with the relighting of the sacred fire. Pausanias (i. 26, 6) mentions the golden lamp made by Callimachus which burned night and day in the sanctuary of Athena Polias on the Acropolis, and (vii. 22, 2 and 3) tells of a statue of Hermes Agoraios, in the market-place of Pharae in Achaea, 1 " Fire, thou knowest all things ! " See A. Bourquin, " Brahmakarma, ou rites sacres des Brahmans," in the Annales du Musee Guimet (Paris, 1884, t. vii.).

before which lamps were lighted. Among the Romans lighted candles and lamps formed part of the cult of the domestic tutelary deities; on all festivals doors were garlanded and lamps lighted {Juvenal, Sat. xii. 92; Tertullian, Apol. xxxv.). In the cult of Isis lamps were lighted by day. In the ordinary temples were candelabra, e.g. that in the temple of Apollo Palatinus at Rome, originally taken by Alexander from Thebes, which was in the form of a tree from the branches of which lights hung like fruit. In comparing pagan with Christian usage it is important to remember that the lamps in the pagan temples were not symbolical, but votive offerings to the gods. Torches and lamps were also carried in religious processions.

The pagan custom of burying lamps with the dead conveyed no such symbolical meaning as was implied in the late Christian custom of placing lights on and about the tombs of martyrs and saints. Its object was to provide the dead with the means of obtaining light in the next world, a wholly material conception; and the lamps were for the most part unlighted. It was of Asiatic origin, traces of it having been observed in Phoenicia and in the Punic colonies, but not in Egypt or Greece. In Europe it was confined to the countries under the domination of Rome. 2 In Christianity, from the very first, fire and light are conceived as symbols, if not as visible manifestations, of the divine nature and the divine presence. Christ is " the true Light " (John i. 9), and at his transfiguration " the fashion Christian y. , .... symbolism of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was /i;^t white and glistering " (Luke ix. 29) ; when the Holy Ghost descended upon the apostles, " there appeared unto them cloven tongues of fire, and it sat upon each of them" (Acts ii. 3); at the conversion of St Paul " there shined round him a great light from heaven " (Acts ix. 3); while the glorified Christ is represented as standing " in the midst of seven candlesticks . . . his head and hairs white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes as a flame of fire " (Rev. i. 14, 15). Christians are " children of Light " at perpetual war with " the powers of darkness."

All this might very early, without the incentive of Jewish and pagan example, have affected the symbolic ritual of the primitive Church. There is, however, no evidence of n ^ any ceremonial use of lights in Christian worship during charfh. * the first two centuries. It is recorded, indeed (Acts xx. 7, 8), that on the occasion of St Paul's preaching at Alexandria in Troas "there were many lights in the upper chamber"; but this was at night, and the most that can be hazarded is that a specially large number were lighted as a festive illumination, as in modern Church festivals (Martigny, Diet, des antiqu. ChreL). As to a purely ceremonial use, such early evidence as exists is all the other way. A single sentence of Tertullian (Apol. xxxv.) sufficiently illuminates Christian practice during the 2nd century. " On days of rejoicing," he says, "we do not shade our door-posts with laurels nor J*^'"* encroach upon the day-light with lamps " (die laelo taat i USl non laurels pastes obumbramus nee lucernis diem infringimus) . Lactantius, writing early in the 4th century, is even more sarcastic in his references to the heathen practice. " They kindle lights," he says, " as though to one who is in darkness. Can he be thought sane who offers the light of lamps and candles to the Author and Giver of all light?" (Div. Inst. vi. de vero cultu, cap. 2, in Migne, Pair. lot. vi. 637).' This is primarily an attack on votive lights, and does not necessarily exclude their ceremonial use in other ways. There is, indeed, evidence that they were so used before Lactantius wrote. The 34th canon of the synod of Elvira (305), which was contemporary with him, forbade candles to be lighted in cemeteries during the daytime, which points to an established custom as well as to an objection to it; and in the Roman catacombs lamps have been found of the 2nd and 3rd centuries which seem to have 2 J. Toutain, in Daremberg and Saglio, Dictionnaire, s.v. " Lucerna."

3 This is quoted with approval by Bishop Jewel in the homily Against Peril of Idolatry (see below).

centuries.

been ceremonial or symbolical. 1 Again, according to the Ada of St Cyprian (d. 258), his body was borne to the grave prae- lucentibus cereis, and Prudentius, in his hymn on the 2nd tad martyrdom of St Lawrence (Peristeph. ii. 71, in Migne, P atr - ^ al - 1*. 300), says that in the time of St Laurentius, i.e. the middle of the 3rd century, candles stood in the churches of Rome on golden candelabra. The gift, mentioned by Anastasius (in Sylv.), made by Constantine to the Vatican basilica, of a pharum of gold, garnished with 500 dolphins each holding a lamp, to burn before St Peter's tomb, points also to a custom well established before Christianity became the state religion.

Whatever previous custom may have been and for the earliest ages it is difficult to determine absolutely owing to the fact that the Christians held their services at night by Jemme tne c i ose o f jjje 4th century the ceremonial use of "aatius." lights na d become firmly and universally established in the Church. This is clear, to pass by much other evidence, from the controversy of St Jerome with Vigilantius.

Vigilantius, a presbyter of Barcelona, still occupied the position of Tertullian and Lactantius in this matter. " We see," he wrote, " a rite peculiar to the pagans introduced into the churches on pretext of religion, and, while the Sun is still shining, a mass of wax tapers lighted. ... A great honour to the blessed martyrs, whom they think to illustrate with contemptible little candles (de vilissimis cereolis) \ " Jerome, the most influential theologian of the day, took up the cudgels against Vigilantius (he " ought to be called Dormitantius "), who, in spite of his fatherly admonition, had dared again " to open his foul mouth and send forth a filthy stink against the relics of the holy martyrs " (Hier. Ep. cix. al. 53 ad Ripuarium Presbyt., in Migne, Patr. lat. p. 906). If candles are lit before their tombs, are these the ensigns of idolatry ? In his treatise contra Vigilantium (Patr. lat. t. xxiii.) he answers the question with much common sense. There can be no harm if ignorant and simple people, or religious women, light candles in honour of the martyrs. We are not born, but reborn, Christians," and that which when done for idols was detestable is acceptable when done for the martyrs. As in the case of the woman with the precious box of ointment, it is not the gift that merits reward, but the faith that inspires it. As for lights in the churches, he adds that " in all the churches of the East, whenever the gospel is to be read, lights are lit, though the Sun be rising (jam sole rutilante), not in order to disperse the darkness, but as a visible sign of gladness (ad signum laetitiae demonstrandum)." Taken in connexion with a statement which almost immediately precedes this " Cereos autem non clara luce accendimus, sicut frustra calumniaris: sed ut noctis tenebras hoc solatio temperemus " ( 7) this seems to point to the fact that the ritual use of lights in the church services, so far as already established, arose from the same conservative habit as determined the development of liturgical vestments, i.e. the lights which had been necessary at the nocturnal meetings were retained, after the hours of service had been altered, and invested with a symbolical meaning.

Already they were used at most of the conspicuous functions of the Church. Paulinus, bishop of Nola (d. 431), describes the altar at the eucharist as " crowned with crowded Practice lights," 2 and even mentions the "eternal lamp." 3 century. For their use at baptisms we have, among much other evidence, that of Zeno of Verona for the West, 4 and that of Gregory of Nazianzus for the East. 5 Their use at funerals is illustrated by Eusebius's description of the burial of Constantine, 6 and Jerome's account of that of St Paula. 7 At ordinations they were used, as is shown by the 6th canon of the council of Carthage (398), which decrees that the acolyte is to hand to the newly ordained deacon ceroferarium cum cereo.

1 This symbolism whatever it was was not pagan, i.e. the lamps were not placed in the graves as part of the furniture of the dead in the Catacombs they are found only in the niches of the galleries and the arcosolia nor can they have been votive in the sense popularized later.

" Clara coronantur densis altaria lychnis " (Poem. De S. Felice natalitium, xiv. 99, in Migne, Patr. lat. Ixi. 467).

" Continuum scyphus est arg^enteus aptus ad usum."

" Sal, ignis et oleum " (Lib. i. Tract, xiv. 4, in Migne, xi. 358).

6 In sanct. Pasch. c. 2; Migne, Patr. graeca, xxxvi. 624).

* <t>wra T' f^d^ocTts KVKXy M antvGiv xpvauiv, Bavnaarbv Oianarols bpuni *a.pti\ov (Vita Constantini, iv. 66).

7 " Cum alii Pontifices lampadas cereosque proferrent, alii choras psallentium ducerent " (Ep. cviii. ad Eustochium virginem, in Migne).

As to the blessing of candles, according to the Liber pontificalis Pope Zosimus in 417 ordered these to be blessed, 8 and the Gallican and Mozarabic rituals also provided for this ceremony.* The Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, known as Candlemas (q.i>.), because on this day the candles for the whole year are blessed, was established according to some authorities by Pope Gelasius I. about 492. As to the question of "altar lights," however, it must be borne in mind that these were not placed upon the altar, or on a retable behind it, until the 12th century. These were originally the candles carried by the deacons, according to the Ordo Romanus (i. 8; ii. 5; iii. 7) seven in number, which were set down either on the steps of the altar, or, later, behind it. In the Eastern Church, to this day, there are no lights on the high altar; the lighted candles clwrch stand on a small altar beside it, and at various parts of the service are carried by the lectors or acolytes before the officiating priest or deacon. The " crowd of lights " described by Paulinus as crowning the altar were either grouped round it or suspended in front of it ; they are represented by the sanctuary lamps of the Latin Church and by the crown of lights suspended in front of the altar in the Greek.

To trace the gradual elaboration of the symbolism and use of ceremonial lights in the Church, until its full development and systematization in the middle ages, would be impossible here. It must suffice to note a few stages in Develop' the process. The burning of lights before the tombs ^el/se. of martyrs led naturally to their being burned also before relics and lastly before images and pictures. This latter practice, hotly denounced as idolatry during the iconoclastic controversy (see ICONOCLASM), was finally established as orthodox by the second general council of Nicaea (787), which restored the worship of images. A later development, however, by which certain lights themselves came to be regarded as objects of worship and to have other lights burned before them, was condemned as idolatrous by the synod of Noyon in 1344.' The passion for symbolism extracted ever new meanings out of the candles and their use. Early in the 6th century Ennodius, bishop of Pavia, pointed out the three-fold elements of a waxcandle (Opusc. ix. and x.), each of which would make it an offering acceptable to God; the rush-wick is the product of pure water, the wax is the offspring of virgin bees, 11 the flame is sent from heaven. 12 Clearly, wax was a symbol of the Blessed Virgin and the holy humanity of Christ. The later middle ages developed the idea. Durandus, in his Rationale, interprets the wax as the body of Christ, the wick as his soul, the flame as his divine nature; and the consuming candle as symbolizing his passion and death.

8 This may be the paschal candle only. In some codices the text runs: " Per parochias concessit licentiam benedicendi Cereum Paschalem " (Du Cange, Glossarium, s.v. " Cereum Paschale "). In the three variants of the notice of Zosimus given in Duchesne's edition of the Lib. pontif. (1886-1892) the word cera is, however, alone used. Nor does the text imply that he gave to the suburbican churches a privilege hitherto exercised by the metropolitan church. The passage runs: " Hie constituit ut diaconi leva tecta haberent de pallets linostimis per parrochias et ut cera benedicatur," etc. Per parrochias here obviously refers to the head-gear of the deacons, not to the candles.

9 See also the Peregrinatio Sylviae (386), 86, etc., for the use of lights at Jerusalem, and Isidore of Seville (Etym. vii. 12; xx. 10) for the usage in the West. That even in the 7th century the blessing of candles was by no means universal is proved by the gth canon of the council oflToledo (671),]" De benedicendo cereo et lucerna in privilegiis Paschae." This canon states that candles and lamps are not blessed in some churches, and that inquiries have been made why we do it. In reply, the council decides that it should be done to celebrate the mystery of Christ's resurrection. See Isidore of Seville, Cone., in Migne, Pat. lat. Ixxxiv. 369.

10 Du Cange, Glossarium, s.v. " Candela."

11 Bees were believed, like fish, to be sexless.

12 " Venerandis compactam elementis facem tibi, Domine, mancipamus: in qua trium copula munerum primum de impari numero ^omplacebit: quae quod gratis Deo veniat auctoribus, non habetut incertum : unum quod de fetibus fluminum accedunt nutrimenta flammarum: aliud quod apum tribuit intemerata fecunditas, in quarum partibus nulla partitur damna virginitas: ignis etiam coelo infusus adhibetur " (Opusc. x. in Migne, Patr. lat. t. Ixiii.).

In the completed ritual system of the medieval Church, as still preserved in the Roman Catholic communion, the use of ceremonial lights falls under three heads. (l) They may be symbolical of the light of God's presence, of Christ as " Light of Light," or of " the children of Light " in conflict with ^ the powers of darkness; they may even be no more Church. than expressions of joy on the occasion of great festivals. (2) They may be votive, i.e. offered as an act of worship (latria) to God. (3) They are, in virtue of their benediction by the Church, sacramentalia, i.e. efficacious for the good of men's souls and bodies, and for the confusion of the powers of darkness. 1 With one or more of these implications, they are employed in all the public functions of the Church. At the consecration of a church twelve lights are placed round the walls at the twelve spots Dedication w h e re these are anointed by the bishop with holy oil, and on every anniversary these are relighted; at the church. dedication of an altar tapers are lighted and censed at each place where the table is anointed (Pontificate Rom. p. ii. De eccl. dedicat. seu consecrat.). At every liturgical service, and especially at Mass and at choir services, there must be at least two lighted tapers on the altar, 2 as symbols of the presence At Mass Q f QQJ anc j tr i5 utes o f adoration. For the Mass the and choir ru j e ; s t h at there are s ; x lights at High Mass, four at a services. missa cantata, and two at private masses. At a Pontifical High Mass (i.e. when the bishop celebrates) the lights are seven, because seven golden candlesticks surround the risen Saviour, the chief bishop of the Church (see Rev. i. 12). At most pontifical functions, moreover, the bishop as the representative of Christ is preceded by an acolyte with a burning candle (bugia) on a candlestick. The Ceremoniale Episcoporum (i. 12) further orders that a burning lamp is to hang at all times before each altar, three in front of the high altar, and five before the reserved Sacrament, ictuary as svmDo i s of the eternal Presence. In practice, howtemps, ever, it is usual to have only one lamp lighted before the tabernacle in which the Host is reserved. The special symbol of the real presence of Christ is the Sanctus candle, which is lighted at the moment of consecration and kept burning until the communion. The same symbolism is intended by the lighted tapers which must accompany the Host * ea ' whenever it is carried in procession, or to the sick and Presence. dyin g_ As symbols of light and joy a candle is held on each side of the deacon when reading the Gospel at Mass; and the same symbolism underlies the multiplication of lights on festivals, their number varying with the importance of the occasion. As to the number of these latter no rule is laid down. They differ from liturgical lights in that, whereas these must be tapers of pure beeswax or lamps fed with pure olive oil (except by special dispensation under certain circumstances), those used merely to add splendour to the celebration may be of any materiaj; the only exception being, that in the decoration of the altar gas-lights are forbidden.

In general the ceremonial use of lights in the Roman Catholic Church is conceived as a dramatic representation in fire of the life Tenebrae ^ Christ and of the whole scheme of salvation. On Easter Eve the new fire, symbol of the light of the newly risen Christ, is produced, and from this are kindled all the lights used throughout the Christian year until, in the gathering darkness ( tenebroe) of the Passion, they are gradually extinguished. This quenching of the light of the world is symbolized at the service of Tenebrae in Holy Week by the placing on a stand before the altar of thirteen lighted tapers arranged pyramidally, the rest of the church being in darkness. The penitential psalms are sung, and at the end of each a candle is extinguished. When only the central one is left it is taken down and carried behind the altar, thus symbolizing the 1 All three conceptions are brought out in the prayers for the blessing of candles on the Feast of the Purification of the B.V.M. (Candlemas, q.v.). (i) " O holy Lord, . . . who ... by the command didst cause this liquid to come by the labour of bees to the perfection of wax, . . . we beseech thee ... to bless and sanctify these candles for the use of men, and the health of bodies and souls. ..." (2) "... these candles, which we thy servants desire to carry lighted to magnify thy name; that by offering them to thee, being worthily inflamed with the holy fire of thy most sweet charity, we may deserve," etc. (3) " O Lord Jesus Christ, the true light, . . . mercifully grant, that as these lights enkindled with visible fire dispel nocturnal darkness, so our hearts illumined by invisible fire," etc. (Missale Rom.). In the form for the blessing of candles extra diem Purifications B. Mariae Virg. the virtue of the consecrated candles in discomfiting demons is specially brought out: " that in whatever places they may be lighted, or placed, the princes of darkness may depart, and tremble, and may fly terror-stricken with all their ministers from those habitations, nor presume further to disquiet and molest those who serve thee, Almighty God " (Rituale Rom.).

2 Altar candlesticks consist of five parts: the foot, stem, knob in the centre, bowl to catch the drippings, and pricket (a sharp point on which the candle is fixed). It is permissible to use a long tube, pointed to imitate a candle, in which is a small taper forced to the top by a spring (Cong. Rit., I ith May 1878).

betrayal and the death and burial of Christ. This ceremony can be traced to the 8th century at Rome.

On Easter Eve new fire is made 3 with a flint and steel, and blessed; from this three candles are lighted, the lumen Christi, and from these again the Paschal Candle. 4 This is the _. symbol of the risen and victorious Christ, and burns at ' every solemn service until Ascension Day, when it is extinguished and removed after the reading of the Gospel c*nale. at High Mass. This, of course, symbolizes the Ascension; but meanwhile the other lamps in the church have received their light from the Paschal Candle, and so symbolize throughout the year the continued presence of the light of Christ.

At the consecration of the baptismal water the burning Paschal Candle is dipped into the font " so that the power of the Holy Ghost may descend into it and make it an effective instrument of regeneration." This is the symbol of Ba P" sla - baptism as rebirth as children of Light. Lighted tapers are also placed in the hands of the newly-baptized, or of their god-parents, with the admonition " to preserve their baptism inviolate, so that they may go to meet the Lord when he comes to the wedding." Thus, too, as " children of Light," candidates for ordination and novices about to take the vows carry lights when they come before the bishop ; and the same idea ' underlies the custom of carrying lights at weddings, at the first communion, and by priests going to their first mass, though none of these are liturgically prescribed. Finally, lights are placed round the bodies of the dead and carried beside them to the p grave, partly as symbols that they still live in the light yj""' of Christ, partly to frighten away the powers of darkness.

Conversely, the extinction of lights is part of the ceremony of excommunication (Pontificate Rom. pars iii.). Regino, abbot of Prum. describes the ceremony as it was carried out in his day, when its terrors were yet unabated (De eccles. disciplina, ii. 409). " Twelve priests should stand about the bishop, holding in their hands lighted torches, which at the con- elusion of the anathema or excommunication they should cast down and trample under foot." When the excommunication is removed, the symbol of reconciliation is the handing to the penitent of a burning taper.

As a result of the Reformation the use of ceremonial lights was either greatly modified, or totally abolished in the Protestant Churches. In the Reformed (Calvinistic) Churches altar lights were, with the rest, done away with entirely as popish and superstitious. In the Lutheran Churches they were retained, and in Evangelical Germany have even survived most of the other medieval rites and ceremonies (e.g. the use of vestments) which were not abolished at the Reformation itself.

In the Church of England the practice has been less consistent The first Prayer-book of Edward VI. directed two lights to be placed on the altar. This direction was omitted in the second Prayer-book; but the " Ornaments Rubric " of Queen Elizabeth's Prayer-book seemed again to make them obligatory. The question of how far this did so is a much-disputed one and is connected with the whole problem of the meaning and scope of the rubric (see VESTMENTS). An equal uncertainty reigns with regard to the actual usage of the Church of England from the Reformation onwards. Lighted candles certainly continued to decorate the holy table in Queen Elizabeth's chapel, to the scandal of Protestant zealots. They also seem to have been retained, at least for a while, in certain cathedral and collegiate churches. There is, however, no mention of ceremonial candles in the detailed account of the services of the Church of England given by William Harrison (Description of England, 1570); and the attitude of the Church towards their use, until the ritualistic movement of the 17th century, would seem to be authoritatively expressed in the Third Part of the Sermon against Peril of Idolatry, which quotes with approval the views of Lactantius and compares " our Candle Religion " 3 This is common to the Eastern Church also. Pilgrims from all parts of the East flock to Jerusalem to obtain the " new fire " on Easter Eve at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Here the fire is supposed to be miraculously sent from heaven. The rush of the pilgrims to kindle their lights at it is so great, that order is maintained with difficulty by Mahommedan soldiers.

4 The origin of the Paschal Candle is lost in the mists of antiquity. According to the abb Chatelain (quoted in Diderot's Encyclopedic, s.v. " Cierge ") the Paschal Candle was not originally a candle at all, but a wax column on which the dates of the movable feasts were inscribed. These were later written on pa^er and fixed to the Paschal Candle, a custom which in his day survived in the Cluniac churches.

with the " Gentiles Idolaters." This pronouncement, indeed, though it certainly condemns the use of ceremonial lights in most of its later developments, and especially the conception of them as votive offerings whether to God or to the saints, does not necessarily exclude, though it undoubtedly discourages, their purely symbolical use. 1 In this connexion it is worth pointing out that the homily against idolatry was reprinted, without alteration and by the king's authority, long after altar lights had been restored under the influence of the high church party supreme at court. Illegal under the Act of Uniformity they seem never to have been. The use of " wax lights and tapers " formed one of the indictments brought by P. Smart, a Puritan prebendary of Durham, against Dr Burgoyne, Cosin and others for setting up " superstitious ceremonies " in the cathedral " contrary to the Act of Uniformity." The indictments were dismissed in 1628 by Sir James Whitelocke, chief justice of Chester and a judge of the King's Bench, and in 1629 by Sir Henry Yelverton, a judge of Common Pleas and himself a strong Puritan (see Hierurgia Angllcana, ii. pp. 230 seq.). The use of ceremonial lights was among the indictments in the impeachment of Laud and other bishops by the House of Commons, but these were not based on the Act of Uniformity. From the Restoration onwards the use of ceremonial lights, though far from universal, was not unusual in cathedrals and collegiate churches. 2 It was not, however, till the ritual revival of the 19th century that their use was at all widely extended in parish churches- The growing custom met with fierce opposition; the law was appealed to, and in 1872 the Privy Council declared altar lights to be illegal (Martin v. Mackonochie). This judgment, founded as was afterwards admitted on insufficient knowledge, produced no effect; and, in the absence of any authoritative pronouncement, advantage was taken of the ambiguous language of the Ornaments Rubric to introduce into many churches practically the whole ceremonial use of lights as practised in the pre-Reformation Church. The matter was again raised in the case of Read and others v. the Bishop of Lincoln (see LINCOLN JUDGMENT), one of the counts of the indictment being that the bishop had, during the celebration of Holy Communion, allowed two candles to be alight on a shelf or retable behind the communion table when they were not The necessary for giving light. The archbishop of Canter- "Liacala bury, in whose court the case was heard (1889) , decided "meat" tnat the mere P resence of two candles on the table, burning during the service but lit before it began, was lawful under the first Prayer-Book of Edward VI. and had never been made unlawful. On the case being appealed to the Privy Council, this particular indictment was dismissed on the ground that the vicar, not the bishop, was responsible for the presence of the lights, the general question of the legality of altar lights being discreetly left open.

The custom of placing lighted candles round the bodies of the dead, especially when " lying in state," has never wholly died out in Protestant countries, though their significance has long been lost sight of. 3 In the 18th century, moreover, it was still customary in England to accompany a funeral with lighted tapers. Picart (op. cit. 1737) gives a plate representing a funeral cortege preceded and accompanied by boys, each carrying four lighted candles in a branched candlestick. There seems to be no record of candles having been carried in other processions in England since the Reformation. The usage in this respect in some '' ritualistic " churches is a revival of pre-Reformation ceremonial.

Seethe article " Lucerna," by J. Toutain in Daremberg and Saglio's Diet, des antiquites grecques el romaines (Paris, 1904); J. Marquardt, " Romische Privatalterthumer " (vol. v. of Becker's 1 This homily, written by Bishop Jewel, is largely founded on Bullinger's De origine errons in Dimnorum et sacrorum cultu (1528, 1539).

2 A copper-plate in Bernard Picart's Ceremonies and Religious Customs of the Various Nations (Eng. trans., London, 1737), vi. pt. I, p. 78, illustrating an Anglican Communion service at St Paul's, shows two lighted candles on the holy table.

'In some parts of Scotland it is still customary to place two lighted candles on a table beside a corpse on the day of burial.

Rom. Alterthiimer), ii. 238-301; article " Cierges et lampes," in the Abbe J. A. Martigny's Diet, des Antiquites Chretiennes (Paris, 1865) ; the articles " Lichter " and " Koimetarien " (pp. 834 seq.) in HerzogHauck's Realencyklopadie (3rd ed., Leipzig, 1901); the article " Licht " in Wetzer and Welte's Kirchenlexikon (Freiburg-i.-B., 1882-1901), an excellent exposition of the symbolism from the Catholic point of view, also "Kerze" and "Lichter"; W. Smith and S. Cheetham, Diet, of Chr. Antiquities (London, 1875-1880), i. 939 seq.; in all these numerous further references will be found. See also Muhlbauer, Gesch. u. Bedeutung der Waehslichter bei den kirchlichen Funktionen (Augsburg, 1874); V. Thalhofer, Handbuch der Katholischen Liturgik (Freiburg-i.-B., 1887), i. 666 seq.; and, for the post-Reformation use in the Church of England, Hierurgia Anglicana, new ed. by Vernon Staley (London, 1903). (W. A. P.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | GDPR