Votive candles are of great importance in all religions of the world, but in the Christian one, they take such a strong symbolic meaning that they have become over the centuries an indispensable element both in celebrations and in the decoration of churches and places of worship.
Votive candles in fact represent the light of the Risen Christ, who defeated death and forced darkness to retreat. Because of this value are often placed on the altar. In particular, all votive candles refer to the great paschal candle placed beside the altar and is lit for the Easter Vigil and blown out at Pentecost, symbolizing Jesus as “Light of the World.”
Votive candles also recall the tongues of flame with which the Holy Spirit descended on Mary and the Apostles on Pentecost, investing them with the mission to bring the Word of God among all the tribes, languages, people and nations.
Votive candles also serve as an aid to prayer. In front of chapels or statues of the Madonna or the Saints they are often lit as a symbol of faith and hope; an act of devotion which is also a call for help, protection, a little light, but vivid, brilliant, in the frightening darkness of existence.
Although these days electric lights are considered to be more comfortable and safe, the suggestion created by the beat of the flames of votive candles in the naves of churches or chapels is a heartbreakingly beautiful spectacle which is difficult to give up. Of course, would have no meaning if they were not supported by prayer. When lit, it is appropriate to dwell on the symbolic value of the gesture that is happening, on how the votive candles are a symbol of light and how light is present, act of faith and hope.