This is one of the oldest feasts of our Lady, and in Rome in the 7th century it ranked next to the Assumption. Everyone received a candle, which had been blessed at Mass, and afterwards walked in procession with it. The procession recalled the journey of Mary and Joseph to the temple, the burning candles, Simeon's words that the child in his arms was a "light for the revelation of the gentiles." And how appropriate is this symbolic burning candle! "A candle is made of wick and wax; so was Christ's soul hid within the manhood; also the fire betokeneth the Godhead; also it betokeneth our Lady's motherhood and maidenhood, lighted with the fire of love."
If anything still remained of the Christmas candle, or the Christmas block, it was lighted on this day. Now-a-days, one could light up the Christmas candle and these smaller candles whenever the family are together, or at meal-times, or let them burn before a statue of our Lady.
This day was called the "Wives' feast," and "our Lady's-churching," and it is in memory of this that even today women carry a candle at their churching, even though of course theirs is a ceremony of thanksgiving, and Mary's was that of ritual purification.
- A Candle is Lighted - Imprimatur 1945 -