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Paschal candles melt during heatwave

29 July 2022

Alice Watson

St Michael and All Angels, Kettering. Second image in the gallery

St Michael and All Angels, Kettering. Second image in the gallery

WHILE some churches were able to provide sanctuary from the extreme temperatures last week (News, 22 July), others found that the heatwave had an undesirable effect on their paschal candles.

On Thursday of last week, the Assistant Curate at the Good Shepherd, Carshalton Beeches, the Revd Hannah Gordon, posted a photograph on Twitter of a candle drooping so dramatically that the wick was pointing down at the floor.

The photo prompted some mirth, with users editing it to highlight the resemblance to an elephant’s trunk or a snake, while others suggested captions. “The vicar assured the candle that it happened to everyone sometimes,” was a popular reply.

Several others posted photographs of their own candles, including one by the Assistant Curate at the benefice of St Peter and St Paul with St Michael and All Angels, Kettering, the Revd Alice Watson.

Ms Watson said that it was a common affliction for candles in the latter church: it is a tin tabernacle that gets very hot in summer; even so, this was a particularly dramatic example.

The candle in Carshalton was next to the vestry window when it melted, in the midst of the hottest weather in UK history.

Ms Gordon said that remedial efforts had been made, including soaking the candle in hot water, but that the most straightforward solution might be to cut off the bent part. She added that her church was “fairly informal”, and wouldn’t worry too much about replacing the paschal candle.

Traditionally, paschal candles are blessed during the vigil on Holy Saturday, or very early on Easter Sunday, and placed in a prominent position throughout the ensuing liturgical season. On Pentecost Sunday, the candle is placed by the font, and used during baptisms throughout the following year.

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