Candlesticks from the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth

Candles (and therefore candlesticks) are an ancient accessory of worship.  In the Christian tradition special candlesticks have been used for different occasions and liturgical seasons.  For example, in the Caeremoniale Episcoporum mention is made of silver for great feasts, while silver is forbidden on Good Friday, a day in which wooden candlesticks painted black have traditionally been used, as is the custom with solemn Requiem Masses.  

As someone who has traveled frequently to the Holy Land over the years, I have taken notice of the various different candlesticks that are seen on different Latin Rite altars.  Sometimes the candlesticks are rotated, such as on Mt. Calvary.  Sometimes they stay the same.  The candlesticks in the photos here have caught my eye on numerous occasions, kept on the main altar of the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. 

These candlesticks are gilt, an obvious advantage over brass which tarnishes.  They are uniform in height.  Further, they are decorated in beautiful colored enamel work in shades of blue that reveal three crests: the Franciscans, the Crusader Cross of the Latin Patriarch, and the Royal Emblem.  I do not know how old they are or who donated them.  I presume they were made in France, date from the mid-nineteenth century, and were donated to the Latin Patriarchate probably by someone like the last monarch to rule over France, the Emperor Napoleon III.  The delightful lion and winged lion motif can be seen in the design.    

Like typical liturgical candlesticks, they consist of five parts: the foot, stem, knob, and bowl, and socket to which a candle is fixed.   They would have been kept in the older Basilica of the Annunciation that was torn down in 1954 to make room for the present basilica that was built from 1960-1969.  I am pleased to see these candlesticks have survived and are still being used.  They are a link with the past and they lend a regal dignity to the worship space.  I only wish their matching crucifix was kept together with the set.  It is such a pleasure to see nice historic treasures like these that have survived the turbulence of time.  Ave Maria!       

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