Altar Candles - Placement and Materials

The "General Instruction for the Roman Missal" (found in the front of the Sacramentary or altar missal) says in #79 that 2, or even 4 or 6 candles, are to be "on or near the altar." According to #269 there are to be placed "either on or around the altar in a way suited to the design of the altar and the sanctuary ... be well balanced and must not interfere with the faithful's clear view ...."

Concerning their makeup, a rescript (response) of the Congregation for Divine Worship authoritatively states that, except for the Sanctuary Light (which must be wax or oil), other suitable material may be allowed by the bishops' conference, as long as it is worthy, and produces a living flame without being smoky or noxious. The single exclusion is electric bulbs. (Notitiae 10, 1974, 80, #4).

Answered by Colin B. Donovan, STL

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