The Beat

The Beat

Martina Santos 26 (left) hosts Nieves Gomez as an exchange student from Madrid.
Meet Nieves Gomez
May 27, 2024

How much do you know about the Advent Wreath?

How much do you know about the Advent Wreath?

Advent wreaths are used by Catholics around the world to mark, celebrate, and prepare for the coming of Jesus, our Savior. 

“It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope,” wrote Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI).

With humble beginnings in Germany in 1838, Johann Hinrich Wichern, a Lutheran pastor, who served at an orphanage wanted the children to be able to count the days until the celebration of Christmas. The wreath he crafted was made out of the wheel of a cart with 20 small red candles on the outside and 4 larger red candles in the middle. The white candles were reserved for Sundays. 

Today, the basic Advent wreath is made of holly with three purple candles and one pink candle. Sometimes for Christmas a white candle is added in the middle of the wreath. The circular wreath, with no beginning or end, represents life everlasting and God being there for us forever. 

The purple candles symbolize the royalty of God and Jesus, and serves as a reminder to reflect and repent for our sins. Purple is also a symbol for fasting, which many people do during the Advent season.

The first candle, called the Prophecy Candle, is purple and stands for HOPE and God’s forgiveness. It refers back to God’s prophecy to the Israelites that a messiah would come to save them. This candle also represents forgiveness because through Jesus, God gave us a way to be forgiven. 

Scottish author and philosopher Samuel Smiles writes, “Hope is the companion of power, and mother of success; for who so hopes strongly has within him the gift of miracles.”

The second candle is purple and is called the Bethlehem Candle – the candle of LOVE or FAITH. This candle calls on all Christians to be faithful and remember Joseph and Mary as they crossed into Bethlehem in preparation for Jesus’ birth. It symbolizes love because God sent his son Jesus to save us out of love.  

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong doings, but rejoices with the truth.” Corinthians (13: 4-6)

The Shepherds Candle or candle of JOY is the only pink candle on the Advent wreath. This candle is lit on Gaudete Sunday or the third Sunday of Advent. What makes this Sunday special is that Catholics who were previously fasting take a pause on this day. This candle represents the joy we feel with Christmas day

In Nehemiah 8:10 it is written that, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 

The last purple candle represents PEACE, justice and purity. This candle is called the Angel’s Candle. It represents the peace and purity that Jesus and the angels bring us. 

“Let us remember that peace can only reign in hearts that are humble and detached,” wrote Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat.

The white candle, or Christ Candle,  sits in the middle of the wreath and is lit for the next twelve days after Christmas until the Feast of Epiphany, when we celebrate the Three Kings.

Blessing for the Advent Wreath
The Advent wreath can be blessed at home as long as it is appropriate.
Lord our God,
We praise you for you Son, Jesus Christ: he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples, he is the wisdom that teaches and guides up, he is the Savior of every nation. Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we light the candles of this wreath. May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Prayer service guide for home :

This is the prayer service presentation shared with the community by Campus Ministry.

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