Traditions of the Solemn Papal Mass: Canonization Candles

In a previous article, A Brief Inquiry Into the Roman Custom of Painted Candles, we more generally touched upon the tradition of painted candles that can be frequently seen in Roman churches, especially prior to the post-conciliar period. Many of us are familiar with this custom only in relation to the Paschal Candle, but at least in that regard we are still somewhat vaguely familiar with this sort of custom. However, another similar sort of custom that many may be entirely unfamiliar with is the tradition of offering special, painted candles during the rites of the traditional Solemn Papal Mass for the canonization of a new saint (usus antiquior).

Canonization candles were quite simply special candles offered by the Postulator of the Cause of the saint in question and they came decorated with depictions of the new saint and often scenes from their life as well. Generally they also depicted the arms of the bishop of the diocese from which the saint hailed as well as well as the arms of the pontiff under whom the saint was to be canonized.  Three such candles would be presented during the ceremony, the largest of which was presented to the Prince Assistant to the Papal Throne -- a papal nobleman, another was presented to the pope himself, and the third to the Cardinal Prefect for the Congregation of the Causes for Saints. 

Left: Pope Benedict XV holding a canonization candle for the canonization of St. Joan of Arc. Right: The Prince Assistant to the Papal Throne holding one of the canonization candles at the canonization of St. Anthony Marie Claret

A clearer view of such canonization candles can be seen here, taken from the canonization of St. Peter Claver in the year 1888, presented to Pope Leo XIII by Bishop Guglielmo Pifferi, Sacristan of the Apostolic Palace. 

A still closer look shows the painted depiction of the saint (and another image of the same for comparison):

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