ASK FATHER: Blessed candles for use at home

From  a reader…


I recently purchased some beeswax candles which I want to have blessed in order to use them at home. My question is this: is there a preferable material for devotional candles? Is there a difference between, say, a soya based candle and a beeswax candle? Or a scented candle and an unscented one? Or different colored candles?

Just yesterday I blessed some candles for a family’s home use.  The blessing prayer in the traditional Rituale Romanum (the only book I will ever use to bless things) is lovely:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, bless + these candles at our lowly request. Endow them, Lord, by the power of the holy + cross, with a blessing from on high, you who gave them to mankind in order to dispel darkness. Let the blessing that they receive from the sign of the holy + cross be so effectual that, wherever they are lighted or placed, the princes of darkness may depart in trembling from all these places, and flee in fear, along with all their legions, and never more dare to disturb or molest those who serve you, the almighty God, who live and reign forever and ever.

Let’s put those damned devils to trembling, gibbering flight with our mighty sacramentals and sacraments and the blessings of priests!

Candles are beautiful symbols.  They are like living things.  They eat and drink the wax from the bees, made collectively in association with sweetness.  They breath air.  They move as they flicker.  They communicate to our eyes a beautiful light and give contrast to their surroundings by illumination.  They burn out at the end of their span.  So do we.  They are consumed as sacrifices for the Lord in the liturgy.  So should we be too, consumed for the Lord.   Using blessed candles during important times is a wholesome and Catholic practice.  We should light them when the priest comes to give last rites.  We can light them in times of storm or need.  Leaving one of these personal, lighted stand-ins in a church is entirely natural.

I recommend that people save baptism candles and label them carefully as to what they are, the time and place, the name of the baptizing priests (so you can pray for him).  Then perhaps that same candle can be used when you are ill or about to get married, etc.

To the question…

Q: is there a preferable material for devotional candles? Is there a difference between, say, a soya based candle and a beeswax candle?

For liturgical use, the Church prefers beeswax or a high content of beeswax.  The substance is itself symbolic, as we hear in the Exsultet of the Easter Vigil.  For devotional use. whatever.

Q: Or a scented candle and an unscented one?

A: Well… beeswax is scented like beeswax.  As to artificial scents… just say no.  There’s no rule about this, I think.  A candle is a candle is a candle.  But… just say no.

Q: Or different colored candles?

A: Do you use different colored candles on your Advent wreath?  Again, there’s no rule for blessed candles outside of liturgical use.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. grumpyoldCatholic says:

    A few years ago the old priest of the church I attended at the time ( sadly he has passed ) bought a couple boxes of votive candles made of beeswax. He blessed them on February 2 ( Candlemas Day ) and gave them out to people who attended Mass. After Mass he also did the blessing of the throats for February 3. St Blaise. That is something I remember from my childhood. It’s sad to see all that Vatican II has destroyed.

  2. APX says:

    Speaking of candles, Candlemas is just around the corner, and the Soap sisters also make beeswax candles… Just saying…

  3. I have a lot of blessed candles for use at home. I had a lot of them blessed, because it isn’t often I get the chance to have candles blessed by a priest who takes seriously the use of the Rituale Romanum. A few of these candles are beeswax, but since beeswax candles are more costly, most of my candles are not beeswax. My inventory includes storm candles, votive candles and a lot of tea lights.

    I have a couple of Moroccan lanterns that hang from the ceiling that I put blessed candles in. It’s almost like having miniature sanctuary lamps at home. Tea lights work best for these, because otherwise you could end up dripping wax everywhere. A tea light will burn for a couple of hours or so.

  4. JARay says:

    Once I could always tell I was in a Catholic Church because there was the smell of beeswax and, often. a lingering smell of incense. Sadly, this is no longer the case. I used to keep bees but I have now been prevented from doing so by local laws. I still have quite a large piece of beeswax and I love the scent given off when a beeswax candle is burned. There was a time when only beeswax candles were used in church.

  5. Credoh says:

    We light an old-rite-blessed beeswax candle only during prayers. Elsewhere, we use unblessed rechargeable-battery candles in the votive lamps, which burn 24/7, for safety and to prevent smoke-stained ceilings á la paraffin wax, beeswax being expensive. Is it possible or proper to bless battery candles, to achieve the same demonic repellancy?

  6. Jacob says:

    For those of you who know of such things, does the blessing of candles at NO Candlemas use a newfangled prayer a la the Book of Blessings or does it retain something old and venerable and efficacious? Thank you.

  7. KateD says:

    Someone said they have to be 100% unadulterated beeswax to remain lit during the 3 days of darkness. I am not sure if that is a real thing or not…it wouldn’t surprise me, looking around at the state of things and if it does happen I’m sure God will provide, however, I’m making sure my lamp is full…just in case. Because they are sooooo expensive and I tend to use them, thinking it better to have them lit rather than stumble around in the dark we had to come up with something cheaper. I bought bees wax in bulk. Last year we remelted the previous year’s advent wreath candle wax and poured them into forms, since there wasn’t a place to buy any within 100 miles. But with bees wax, from what I can glean off of YouTube, one has to hand dip them?

    We lost our old Scottish priest who did the same for us…..and just recently I lost my missal with the prayer card from his funeral in it. That is what I’d like most to get back. It was always so nice to flip through and see his face.

  8. jaykay says:

    KateD, sorry to hear about your Missal, hope you get it back. I use my uncle’s (RIP) 1946 Ordination and first Mass card as a marker for the Preface in mine. I’d be do straight if ever I lost it.

    But to the subject: I have a few candles blessed at (NO) Candlemass Mass in the house. They ain’t beeswax for sure, small modern ones, taken from a basket after the (sadly, perfunctory) blessing at the Mass. I do wonder… :(

    But then, it’s all we have these days, so many of us. One trusts, all one can do.

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