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Candles at the end of Christmas

“Candlemas Day” by Marianne Stokes (1855–1927) Austrian Painter

“Candlemas Day” by Marianne Stokes (1855–1927) Austrian Painter

A painter born Marianne Preindlsberger at Graz in the Austrian province of Styria.  She settled in England after her marriage to the landscape painter Adrian Scott Stokes (1854–1935) whom she had met in Pont-Aven and was considered one of the leading artists in Victorian England.

I am moved by the serenity of the young woman in the painting and feel a stirring affinity with her as Catholic Christian, as this image reaches out to me from across the centuries. Praying in the stillness of early morning perhaps, by the light of a candle. I too light a candle , read the Bible and say the Rosary at prayer. A Christian doing what Christians have done for 2000 years. 

Candlemas is a Christian festival celebrated on 2 February.  It marks the end of Epiphany, the Purification of the Virgin Mary and the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, when Jesus was recognised by Simeon as the one for whom he has been waiting. (Luke 2:25-40)  

The feast celebrates the day on which the infant Jesus was taken by Mary His Mother and St. Joseph to the Temple in Jerusalem where thanks would be offered to God, according to the correct and ancient Jewish custom. When Simeon , ”an upright and devout man”, well advanced in years saw them he knew that this was the Child who was the Messiah for which Israel and the world had been waiting. He took the child in his arms and praised God and  declared that this child would be a light to all the world, a light that would enlighten pagans and give honour to the people of Israel from whom he had sprung.

To commemorate what Simeon said , there are special candle services in church – sometimes with a procession into the church beforehand. These candles are blessed, and we can take them home with us where they can be lit again for a family candlelight supper. 

…after Candlemas the days start getting longer, and we don’t need artificial light in the evenings.Spring is on the way and we should start enjoying it.

Quoted from ‘A book of Feasts and Seasons’, by Joanna Bogle (available at Amazon)

Image@http://www.freeimageslive.co.uk/

Image@http://www.freeimageslive.co.uk/

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