The Paschal Candle

In every Catholic Church there is a large cylindrical candle, called the Paschal candle, which is a sacramental sign of Jesus’ presence in the world. It is also known as the Easter candle.

Every year, a new Paschal candle is blessed and first lit from the new fire at the Easter Vigil. There should only be one and no Paschal candle from an earlier year should ever be used again.

The flame of the Paschal candle represents Jesus’ Divinity, the risen Light of the World who overcomes the darkness of sin and death.

The body of the Paschal candle is made of the purest virgin beeswax, never artificial, because it stands for the sinless Jesus Who was born of the Virgin Mary. It is adorned with symbols of his Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection.

The candle is marked with the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The Alpha and Omega indicate that Jesus is the beginning and the end. The current year on the candle is a reminder that Jesus is here now.

A Cross on the candle indicates Jesus’ victorious Resurrection which leads from death into new life. The candle is pierced with five grains of incense to represent the wounds that were inflicted on Jesus’ head, hands, feet, and side.

Usually found near the baptismal font, the Paschal candle is lit and prominently displayed near the pulpit at all Masses during the 50 days of the Easter season.

The candle is lit each time the Sacrament of Baptism is celebrated. The newly baptized receive a small candle of their own which is lit from the Paschal candle, symbolizing that they have received the light of Christ.

As a reminder that those who are baptized are baptized into the death of Christ and can hope to be resurrected into Eternal Life, the Paschal candle is also lit and placed near the coffin at all Catholic funeral Masses.

More than just a pretty candle:

OLMM Parish HamptonNH

A sacred liturgical candle with rich symbolism:

Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts

A new candle every year:

Fr. William Holtzinger

Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8: 12

A special candle with a special blessing:

Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Parish

A hymn of praise to Christ our light:

Church of St. Mary Lake Forest, IL

Christ is the great Light from which all life originates. He enables us to recognize the glory of God from one end of the Earth to the other. He points out our path. He is the Lord’s day which, as it grows, is gradually spreading throughout the Earth. Now, living with Him and for Him, we can live in the light. At the Easter Vigil, the Church represents the mystery of the light of Christ in the sign of the Paschal candle, whose flame is both light and heat. The symbolism of light is connected with that of fire: radiance and heat, radiance and the transforming energy contained in the fire – truth and love go together. The Paschal candle burns, and is thereby consumed: Cross and resurrection are inseparable. From the Cross, from the Son’s self-giving, light is born, true radiance comes into the world. From the Paschal candle we all light our own candles, especially the newly baptized, for whom the light of Christ enters deeply into their hearts in this Sacrament.

Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, 11 April 2009

Enlightening the year ahead:

St. Francis Xavier Parish Mississauga

Lighting the way for Catholics on their faith journey:

Our Lady of Grace, Encino

The white garment symbolizes that the person baptized has “put on Christ,” has risen with Christ. The candle, lit from the Easter candle, signifies that Christ has enlightened the neophyte. In Him the baptized are “the light of the world.” The newly baptized is now, in the only Son, a child of God entitled to say the prayer of the children of God: “Our Father.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1243

The pillar of light that guides Catholics:

New Clairvaux Abbey

The candle of Catholic Easter liturgies:

Catholic News Service

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

Mentors in the spiritual life:

Godsplaining | Catholic Podcast

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