Religion Wiki

Votive candle being lit at a cathedral in Brussels

Votive candles at the Catholic Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

A votive candle or prayer candle is a small, typically white or beeswax yellow, candle, originally intended to be burnt as a votive offering in a religious ceremony. It also refers to a standard size of candle 2 inches high by 1.5 inches diameter, of any color or scent.

Christian use

Roman Catholicism

In the Roman Catholic Church, candles are placed before a statue of Jesus or of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Often, in older or traditional churches, this will be before a side altar. Candles used may vary from long, taper-type candles to tea-light candles. Tea-light candles are either placed in holders or just on a platform in front of the statue. Long candles may be placed in a special holder.[1][2]

Eastern Orthodoxy

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, candles are lit before icons, usually of Jesus Christ or the Holy Theotokos. Usually Orthodox churches only use long, thin candles. These are usually placed in round containers, having either various sockets to hold the candles, or in a container filled with sand, in which the worshippers place their candles. Orthodox churches will usually have a separate place to put candles lit for the departed; Roman Catholic churches make no such distinction.[3]


Some Anglican churches (typically High Anglican churches) also have votive candles for purposes similar to that of the Roman Catholic Church.[4]


Some Methodist churches (particularly United Methodist churches) use votive candles to pray for the souls of people who had died. Candles may be lit at home or at the church. They are usually lit on altar racks, altar rails, or in front of a cross. They are also lit during the Liturgy of All Saints Day and The Liturgy of Good Friday. [5][6][7]

More information

Candles are lit for prayer intentions. To "light a candle for someone" indicates one's intention to say a prayer for another person, and the candle symbolizes that prayer. A donation box intended to defer candle costs generally accompanies votive candles. In some churches, the donation is considered a mandatory contribution in exchange for lighting a candle.

See also


This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Votive candle. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.