Monday, June 14


An Interesting Folkloric Fossil

I am told, in the late Middle Ages, that the candles used in the Candlemas procession were often taken home afterwards by the laity and used as a powerful sacramental. Indeed, just as church bells were rung during thunderstorms to ward off lighting strikes (the bells are blessed after all), the Candlemas candles were lit on similar occasions. (I attended the Candlemas procession at Kenrick-Glennon and kept my candle stub in case of just such eventuality, by the way, though come the first thunderstorm of the year I forgot to do anything about it.) Indeed, in Poland, there is a devotion, I think, to Our Lady of the Blessed Thunder Candle, that arose from this practice (though she is also shown with a wolf at her feet. I haven't a clue what's up with that). What I thought was particularly interesting was when I mentioned some of these customs to my dad, he said his late mother (Irish-American Catholic) had sometimes lit candles during thunderstorms, and not necessarily because of a power failure, though not for any discernable sacramental reason, either. Presumably the practice must have survived in some highly distented, habitual way in some places, even if devoid of its original significance. Or maybe she was just readying herself for the power to go out.

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