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(Feast of the Presentation of Christ – Feast of the Purification of Mary)
“…a light for the nations…”
When the infant Christ was presented in the temple (Luke 2:22-39), Simeon declared Him “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” – this is traditionally commemorated at Candlemas, a bridge between winter and spring, with a glowing array of candles symbolizing this Light.
“The feast of the Purification also marked…the early turning of winter into spring, and it was celebrated, appropriately enough, with dramatic darkness and dramatic light. Lit with an extraordinary display of candles, the church of St. Andrew welcomed the Penifaders out of the cold dawn of a February morning. After the mass, everyone paraded around the church with candles, and when this procession ended, other candles and tapers were blessed and then saved for later use… The candles were so bright in the darkness of early morning that the service was familiarly known as Candlemas.”
(Judith Bennett, A Medieval Life: Cecilia Penifader of Brigstock, c. 1295-1344)
(These images, as well as a wonderful PDF with all of them, are available at The Homely Hours as well!)