Altar candles

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: Our pastor recently purchased a number of new candle holders so that he can have six candles on the altar at weekend mass.  He referenced the Jewish faith and the menorah as to why he wants six.  Is six really necessary according to current directives?


A: GIRM 117: “on or next to the altar are to be placed candlesticks with lighted candles: at least two in any celebration, or even four or six, especially for a Sunday Mass or a Holyday of Obligation, or if the Diocesan Bishop celebrates, then seven candlesticks with lighted candles.”

So, six is not necessary, but it is permissible. Many parishes use fewer candles on weekdays to distinguish them from Sunday masses.

The GIRM makes no connection between the altar candles and the menorah, which traditionally uses seven candles, not six.