LIGHTS, USE OF, IN WORSHIP: From very early times during service the altar has been lighted, even in day-time, at first generally by lamps, later by candles. In the fourth century the custom of giving distinction to religious functions by means of illumination appears to have been general. The reading of the Gospels, baptism, the celebration of the Lord's Supper, festivals such as Easter and Pentecost, the consecration of churches, the installation of bishops, etc., gave regular or extraordinary occasion therefor. The vigils especially offered a favorable opportunity. Indeed, even at an early period, the institution of the "eternal light" appears, indicating a still earlier date for the origin of the custom. The practical requirements of the early morning services, the primitive custom of celebrating the Eucharist in the evening, the employment of lamps in the ceremonies at the sepulchers in the catacombs, the religious significance given to light in the Bible and the example of the seven-branched candlestick rendered light a constituent of the liturgy as early as the third century. At first the altar was surrounded by candlesticks and hanging lamps; not until the twelfth century were the candlesticks placed upon the altar itself. There were in the Roman churches at an early period candlesticks of varied forms and of great material and artistic value. Paulus Silentiarius (ed. Becker, Bonn, 1837) describes the brilliant lighting of the St. Sophia in the time of Justinian. At the services for the dead also the use of lights was introduced at an early period.
In the medieval church this custom increased and became more definite, especially in the placing of candles before pictures and reliquaries, a custom which had its beginnings in Christian antiquity; in the Easter candles, in the so-called Tenebræ lights during Holy Week, and in the death lamps. The festival of Candlemas was created especially for the consecration of candles.
The lamps found in so great numbers in the catacombs were for private use; they are almost all of clay and were given an elongated form from
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bingham, Origines, VIII., vi. 21, XI., iv. 14; XII., iv. 4; XVI., iv. 17; XX., viii. 5; XXIII., ii. 6; F. Bock, Der Kronleuchter des Kaisers Friedrich Barbarossa, Leipsic, 1864; W. Mühlbauer, Geschichte und Bedeutung der Wachslichter bei den kirchlichen Funktionen, Augsburg, 1874; C. Cahier, Nouveaux mélanges d'archéologie, pp. 188-228, Paris; 1875; V. Schultze, Die Katakomben, pp. 488 sqq., Leipsic, 1882; H. Otte, Handbuch der kirchlichen Kunstarchäologie, i. 156 sqq., Leipsic, 1883; C. Rohault de Fleury, La Messe, vi. 1-58, 8 vols., Paris, 1883-89; V. Thalhofer, Handbuch der katholischen Liturgik, i. 666 sqq., Freiburg, 1887; S. Beissel, Kunst und Liturgie in Italien, pp. 247 sqq., Freiburg, 1899; H. Theilar, The Candle as a Symbol and Sacramental in the Catholic Church, New York, 1909; DCA, ii. 993-998, 1564.
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