Religion: Roman Candles

In shrines throughout the Roman Catholic world, millions of silent, smoky candles burn out their brief lives. In sum they make a mighty flame of devotion. Singly, each is to some inarticulate worshipper a symbol of prayer, sacrifice, joy or sorrow. Compounded not of tears or smiles but of beeswax, tallow, paraffin, a candle is a concrete thing. It costs money. Traditional practice in Europe (and lately in some U. S. dioceses) is to set a box of candles by every shrine, let the faithful help themselves and leave a small offering in return. Last...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!