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Feast of The Purification of the Blessed Virgin


Candlemas Day (February 2nd)



After Tierce, follows the Blessing of the Candles,
which is one of the three principal ones observed by
the Church during the year; the other two are the
Blessing of the Ashes, and the Blessing of the Palms.
The signification of this ceremony bears so essential
a connection with the mystery of our Lady's Purifi-
cation, that if Septuagesima, Sexagesiraa, or Quiu-
quagesima Sunday fall on the 2nd of February, the
Feast is deferred to to-morrow; but the Blessing of
the Candles, and the Procession, which follows it,
always take place on this precise day.

In order to give uniformity to the three great Bless-
ings of the year, the Church prescribes for that of
the Candles the same colour for the vestments of the
sacred Ministers, as is used in the two other Bless-
ings of the Ashes and Palms — namely, Purple. Thus 
this solemn function, which is inseparable from the
day on which our Lady's Purification took place, may
be gone through every year on the 2nd of February,
without changing the colour prescribed for the three
Sundays just mentioned. [...]

The mystery of to-day's ceremony has frequently
been explained by liturgists, dating from the 7th
century. According to St. Ivo of Chartres, the
wax — which is formed from the juice of flowers by
the bee, (which has always been considered as the
emblem of virginity,) — signifies the virginal flesh of
the Divine Infant, who diminished not, either by his
conception or his birth, the spotless purity of his
Blessed Mother. The same holy Bishop would have
us see, in the flame of our Candle, a symbol of
Jesus, who came to enlighten our darkness. St.
Anselm,- Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking on the
same mystery, bids us consider three things in the
blest Candle: the Wax, the Wick, and the Flame.
The Wax, he says, which is the production of the
virginal bee, is the Flesh of our Lord ; the Wick,
which is within, is his Soul; the Flame, which bums
on the top, is his Divinity.

Formerly, the Faithful looked upon it as an
honour to be permitted to bring their wax tapers to
the Church, on this Feast of the Purification, that
they might be blessed together with those, which
were to be borne in the procession by the Priests and
sacred Ministers; and the same custom is still ob-
served in some congregations. It would be well if
Pastors were to encourage this practice, retaining it
where it exists, or establishing it where it is not
known. There has been such a systematic effort
made to destroy or, at least, to impoverish the ex-
terior rites and practices of religion, that we find,
throughout the world, thousands of christians who
have been insensibly made strangers to those ad-
mirable sentiments of faith, which the Church alone,
in her Liturgy, can give to the body of the Faithful.
Thus, we shall be telling many what they have never
heard before, when we inform them, that the Church
blesses the Candles to-day, not only to be carried in
the Procession, which forms part of the ceremony,
but, also, for the use of the Faithful, inasmuch as
they draw, upon such as use them with respect,
whether on sea or on land, (as the Church says in
the Prayer,) special blessings from heaven. These
blest Candles ought, also, to be lit near the bed of
the dying Christian, as a symbol of the immortality
merited for us by Christ, and of the protection of our
Blessed Lady." (Extracted from "The Liturgical Year", by  

The Very Rev. Dom Prosper Guéranger, Abott of Solesmes, 1868)


Prosper Louis Pascal Guéranger, O.S.B. (commonly referred to as Dom Guéranger, 4 April 1805, Sablé-sur-Sarthe, France – 30 January 1875, Solesmes, France) was a French Benedictine monk and priest, who served for nearly 40 years as the Abbot of Solesmes Abbey (which he founded in the abandoned Priory of Solesmes). Through his efforts, he became the founder of the French Benedictine Congregation (now the Solesmes Congregation), which re-established monastic life in France after it had been wiped out by the French Revolution. Guéranger was the author of The Liturgical Year, which covers every day of the Catholic Church's Liturgical cycle in 15 volumes. He was well regarded by Pope Pius IX, and was a proponent of the dogmas of papal infallibility and the Immaculate Conception.

Feb. 2, 2015