As specialists in church furniture, we are often asked to help worshipping communities create special pieces that can be used at specific times in the church year. As Easter approaches, we thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at the role of the Paschal Candle in church life and look back at some candle stand projects we have been involved in.
The role of the Paschal Candle
The Paschal Candle, sometimes known as the Easter Candle, is lit to symbolise Christ as the light of the world. The white ceremonial candle is displayed on a special stand and is used during liturgical services throughout the Easter season. It is also lit for baptisms and funerals through the year as a reminder of Christ’s presence.
The Paschal Candle is traditionally displayed on a tall stand. The fact that it plays such a central role in the life of each Christian community means that many congregations have their own stand made to reflect the personality of their particular church.
Designing a Paschal Candle stand
The candle’s special role in church life calls for a sensitive approach when designing a stand for its display. A Paschal Candle tends to be very large, in recognition of its symbolic importance. This means the stand has to be robust and ideally made of several components for ease of use.
A few years ago we made a Pashcal Candle stand for Mirfield Monastery that was 2.5 metres high. It demanded intricate planning and engineering expertise to create something that could be moved easily. We made it so that is could be split in two, offering the option to use it at full height or in a shorter form for certain ceremonies.
Collaboration with the worshipping community is key in any church furniture project we are involved in. The finished piece will play a focal role in their activities and we usually find that people are enthusiastic about being part of the design process. We send regular updates to the church and welcome groups to visit the workshop and see how things are progressing. In this way, the people who will be using the furniture develop a deep connection with it and feel as if they have played a part in its making, which makes it even more special for them.
The Mirfield candle was a striking contemporary design in solid oak, with a spiralling pattern that tapered in the middle before branching out towards the top, where it supported a large anodized aluminium candle dish to hold the candle itself.
We used CAD/CAM technology to design a complex geometry of 45 individually sculpted oak components, which were then precision cut in our workshop using CNC machining and assembled like a giant jigsaw. We added castors so that it could be moved around the church as required.
We have recently been involved in making a component for another Paschal Candle, using our past experience to create something that is both appealing to look at and practical for everyday use in a busy church.