What Is the Meaning of Lighting a Candle in Church?

Updated March 21, 2017

Candles traditionally have been used in churches of all denominations because of their symbolic meaning of light. During weddings, masses, funerals and baptisms, candles' function is to produce light and dispel darkness. Their beauty and warmth are a reminder of the love of God.


Lighting a candle in church can be a unifying experience. Often each member of the congregation or religious group holds a candle and sings in unison a hymn or chorus. This unity symbolises the love and warmth each has experienced from God and the religious community.


The candle's light provides guidance in the darkness. This is symbolic of the truth of the Word of God as it provides a light and a lamp to guide the path of the believer. Darkness is symbolic of ignorance and death. The lit candle can illuminate for the believer the path of life.


Candles can be symbolic of love. The warmth they generate can be felt during a marriage ceremony. The bride and groom often light a candle at this time to symbolise their love. Their closeness, just like the flame, can produce both warmth and pain.

Jesus Christ

Jesus himself claimed to be the "Light of the World" (John 8:12). The candle can symbolise Jesus Christ, as the believer carries the light of Christ with him or her. The candle itself burns away, as does the material body, but the fire represents the eternal truth of those who believe.


The flame of the candle is symbolic of faith itself. If not guarded, the flame may be extinguished. The believer must protect the flame of faith as she or he does the flame of the candle against the winds of life's experiences.

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About the Author

Stephen Saylor is a bilingual educator and translator who has been writing since 2005. He has contributed articles to websites such as and XtremeMusic. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Michigan State University and a Master of Arts in education from San Diego State University.