EWTN Catholic Q&A
Candles at church
Question from Elizabeth Bliven on 07-09-2018:

I am a Caticumum and see beautiful red candles lit at church. My Father used to take me to light the candles and leave an offering. Would you please explain this practice and how and when I should light them? Also, my Dad would put his hankerchief on my head. Should I still practice this when lighting the candle? I feel embarrassed to ask my group. Thank you for your valuable time. God's love and blessings. Betsy

Answer by David Gregson on 08-13-2018:

The lighting of candles (votive lights) is accompanied by prayer. The fire represents the prayer with which the candle was lit. It's as if the fire prolongs the prayer after the person has left. The offering helps to pay for new candles when the old ones have burned down. Your father's handkerchief may have been to observe the old custom of women covering their heads when in church (Men removed their hats.) In any church with votive lights, you can light a candle whenever you visit, saying a prayer and making the suggested offering.

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