Types of Candles for Religious Saints

Written by m. j. joachim
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Types of Candles for Religious Saints
Candles are an important element of Christian worship. (candle row image by Bionic Media from Fotolia.com)

Religious saint candles have been used to emphasise divine light in symbolic rituals pertaining to worship. Before electricity, candles were necessary as a source of light in evening services and rituals. Over time, they became a source of comfort, an action incorporated with prayer and a reminder of spiritual light, increasingly used faithfully in honorary devotions.

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Votive religious saint candles are short candles, no more than 2 or 3 inches tall. The wax melts quickly when lit, and the light shines brightly above the glass holder. Votive candles often are seen in churches. They are on display for people to make prayer offerings. Usually, a little alcove or altar is set up honouring a particular saint, with several candles made available. People can light a candle and kneel to offer a prayer.


Jar religious saint candles can be bought in many places including religious stores, online, grocery stores and retail warehouses such as Walmart and Cosco. They are tall candles, customarily about 12 inches high. Jar religious candles have a picture of the saint on the front and sometimes a special prayer on the back. They are used in ceremonies dedicated to individual saints, personally displayed by people with particular devotion to saints, and used in remembrance of loved ones who ask the saint listed to watch over someone.


Altar religious saint candles are used less often, as most altar candles are used to draw reverence directly to God, not to a particular saint. Saint candles may be used on honorary feast days and relic tours; altar candles for the saint may be used near and around, but not on the altar.


Novena refers to the number nine. Novena saint candles are used in a prayer ritual that lasts nine days. Saint candles are lit, and devotional prayers are offered at set times throughout the day, for nine days. The candles may be lit perpetually for nine days or lit and extinguished only during prayer times.

Patron Saint

A patron saint is someone people are named after or model their life after. Patron saint candles are used to emphasise the light of the saint in a person's life, drawing comfort and peace from the source of inspiration meant to guide one on the spiritual journey. Patron saint candles are lit privately and used in feast day ceremonies.

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