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Different Paschal CandlesThe Paschal Candle

The flame of the Paschal candle symbolizes the eternal presence of Christ, light of the world in the midst of his people; he who is the Second Person of the Trinity, the Alpha and Omega. The Paschal candle is sometimes referred to as the “Easter candle” or the “Christ candle.” The term “Paschal” comes from the word Pesach, which in Hebrew means Passover, and relates to the Paschal mystery of salvation.The tall white candle in many ways signifies the Divine pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night that lead the Israelites in their Exodus from slavery in Egypt..

Description of the Paschal candle

For congregations that use a Paschal candle it is the largest candle in the worship space. In most cases today the candle will display several common symbols:
  1. paschalcandle2013-mini

    The cross is always the central symbol, most clearly identifying it as the Paschal candle

  2. The Greek letters alpha and omega signify that God is the beginning and the end (from the Book of Revelation)
  3. The current year represents God in the present amidst the congregation
  4. Five grains of incense are embedded in the candle during the Easter Vigil to represent the five wounds of Jesus: the three nails that pierced his hands and feet, the spear thrust into his side, and the thorns that crowned his head.

The Paschal candle in the Easter Vigil

For churches that celebrate the Easter Vigil on the night of Black Saturday, the ceremonial lighting of the Paschal candle is one of the most solemn moments of the service.

On Maundy Thursday of the same week the entire church is darkened by extinguishing all candles and lamps. This represents the darkness of a world without God.

At the opening of the Easter Vigil a “new fire” is lit and blessed. The minister will trace the symbols (mentioned above) on the Paschal candle, saying words similar to: “Christ, yesterday and today, the beginning and the ending. To Christ belongs all time and all the ages; to Christ belongs glory and dominion now and forever. Amen.”

The Paschal candle is the first candle to be lit with a flame from this sacred fire, representing the light of Christ coming into the world. This represents the risen Christ, as a symbol of light (life) dispelling darkness (death). As it is lit, the minister may say words similar to: “The light of Christ, rising in Glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.”

Typically, the worshiping assembly then processes into the church led by the Paschal candle. The candle is raised three times during the procession, accompanied by the chant “The light of Christ” to which the assembly responds “Thanks be to God”. Following the procession the Exultet is chanted, traditionally by a deacon, but it may be chanted by the priest or a cantor. The Exultet concludes with a blessing of the candle:

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.
(For it is fed by the holy melting wax, which the mother bee brought forth
to make this precious candle.)
Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!
May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all humanity,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.

In some traditions the base of the candle may be ritually immersed in the baptismal font before proceeding with the remainder of the service.

This candle is traditionally the one from which all other lights are taken for the Easter service.

Use of the Paschal candle during other times of the year

The candle remains lit at all worship services throughout Easter season (or in some traditions until Ascension Day, when it is extinguished just after the Gospel), during which time it is located in the sanctuary close to the altar. After the Easter season, it is frequently placed near the baptismal font. Before 1955, the option existed of blessing the baptismal font on the Vigil of Pentecost, and this was the only time the Paschal candle would be lit at services after Ascension.

The Paschal candle is also lit during baptisms to signify the Holy Spirit and fire that John the Baptist promised to those who were baptised in Christ. During the baptismal rite in many traditions, a small lit candle will be given to the newly baptised by a member of the community, with words similar to, “Let your light so shine before others, that they might see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

The Paschal candle is also lit and placed near the casket or urn during funeral services such as the Mass of Repose, and Mass of Requiem. This is to signify the hope of the resurrection into which Christians are baptised.

Purchase your Pascal candle from our Online Store today, we have a selection of 4 sizes to choose from as well as the Incense grains and self application candle design.

Stocks are limited, so order your Paschal Candle today