Most candles used in church today are mass-produced, but a handful of Italian monasteries still make them by hand (and you can buy them online).
The scent of burning wax and the twinkling light of candles are often associated with the practice of the Catholic faith. Indeed, candles take on a symbolic meaning, with light indicating the presence of Christ. For centuries, candles used during Mass were made by hand in a painstaking process that involved working beeswax into a smooth cylinder topped by a wick. Today, most candles are made by industrial machines that make the process more efficient, but perhaps less interesting. But a handful of monasteries in Italy are keeping the centuries-long tradition of artisanal candle making alive. Here is a list of monasteries where you can still find hand-made candles:
Monastero di Bose, Bose, Italy
Founded in 1965 as a community open to secular as well as monastic members, the Monastero di Bose in Italy has made the preservation of ancient traditions one of its missions. A variety of candles are made by hand by monastery members, mixing a range of different colors and essential oils. Special candles are created for Christmas, Easter and other festivities as well as for everyday use. Candles for home decorating, all made with a combination of beeswax and paraffin, are also created by the residents of Bose. To buy artisanal candles you can reach the monastery at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their online gift shop.
Monastero delle Clarisse Santa Maria delle Grazie, Farnese, Italy
The Franciscan sisters of the Monastero delle Clarisse “Santa Maria Delle Grazie” specialized in ancient arts and crafts, from ceramics to candles. Each year, they produce a selection of candles, from candles for Mass, to Paschal candles as well as candles designed for home decoration. All candles are made using beeswax, also called “virgin wax” as it is made by mixing beeswax with just water. Once a tube-shaped model is made, the skilled sisters proceed with carving the solidified wax with a knife and adding colorful decorations made with stones or paper. Purchases can be arranged by writing to email@example.com
Monastero di Sant’Anna, Nocera, Italy
The Dominican Monastery of Saint Anne, in Nocera, is a community of 14 nuns who take on many artisanal daily tasks, from icon-making to stone working and candle making. Candles are made by hand and decorated with colorful natural wax. The production of the Monastery of Saint Anne ranges from liturgical candles, to Paschal candles and decorative ones. For information on artisanal products and sales you can message firstname.lastname@example.org.