CANDLES IN RELIGIOUS SERVICE

No doubt the Biblical record of the Golden Candlestick in Jewish ritual will be recalled by those who consider the early craft of the metal workers who fashioned candle-sticks. The ancient piece of plate carried away as a priceless relic by the Roman Conquerors at the sack of Jerusalem, was symbolic in its use. The lights, seven in number, which were never extinguished, signified completeness, and indicated the presence of Jehovah. In later times massive candlesticks of bronze, silver and even gold have been fashioned for the temples of Eastern nations ; they have occupied places of honour in the mosques of Mahomed, in the temples of Old Japan, and in the more important Cathedrals on the Continent of Europe and in Britain. Some of the candlesticks of the Middle Ages are triumphs of the silversmith's art ; they were first cast and then carefully chased with fine figure work and allegorical enrichment. Others were fashioned by hammer and hand and were of skilful craftsmanship. Large single candlesticks stood on the floors of mediaeval churches and even altar candlesticks were often of great size. In these burned candles of large calibre, some of the stands being fashioned as branching candelabra holding many lights, sometimes replicas of the ancient Jewish candlestick, the form of which was handed on to future generations by the sculptures on the Arch of Titus. A remarkable specimen of that pattern was made for Milan Cathedral, and there have been numerous replicas in all metals.

It would seem that the fine pricket candlesticks formerly used for the great candles in the churches were usually made in pairs, a custom handed on to makers of silver candlesticks in more modern times. It would appear that such candlesticks for ecclesiastical purposes were made in this country from very early days for there are many records of such pieces, in brass and silver, being made in many localities. It is recorded that a fine twelfth century pair of candlesticks made for Gloucester Cathedral were fashioned from an alloy of white metal and silver ; indeed, there are many examples of plated-that is, the baser metal overlaid with silver -candlesticks, and of others the so-called silver of which is alloyed with tin and other metals.