Textual History and Theological Reflection on the Inscription of the Paschal Candle

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This work details the textual and history of the inscriptions on the Paschal Candle, carved into wax on only one night of the year within Christian liturgies. A meticulous study of texts and various Latin words brings the reader from ninth century France and Spain to the Lateran basilica of the 13th century. Along with a credible textual history for the inscriptions, this work outlines various schools of liturgical reform evident in the evolution of practice and proposes some theological implications associated with the inscribing of the Paschal Candle. It disproves two earlier misconceptions concerning the inscription’s origins and establishes an original theory concerning the sources and evolution of the practice. Pertinent Medieval manuscripts and associated Latin terminology are competently analyzed to produce a genuine contribution to the field of liturgical history within the Western Christian tradition.


“Reverend Peter M. Girard OP, STD has written a masterful book on the history of the inscription of the Pascal Candle, and from that complex and fascinating history derived a theology of sacred time and how it intersects with eternity, as well as lessons to be learned in models of liturgical change….Having examined many primary sources: pontificals, sacramentaries, scrolls etc…, he skillfully shows how these strands came together in twelfth century Rome, only to be suppressed after thirty years until resurrected in 1951 by the Congregation of Rites…..Reverend Girard writes with diligent research, presents an orderly presentation and reveals original, thought-provoking insights. This work will greatly benefit liturgists, historians and all who are interested in the beauty of the eternal mysteries celebrated in time.” – Reverend Giles R. Dimock, OP, STD, Dominican House of Studies, Washington DC; Chair, American Dominican Liturgical Commission

“Reverend Peter M. Girard, OP’s excellent manuscript is a carefully wrought, painstakingly executed, interestingly phrased study of the doctrine, theology, history and liturgical significance of the inscription of the Paschal Candle. The author has thoroughly acquainted himself with countless details about his topic, and relates them in an easily readable and often fascinating manner. In researching…., Father Girard consulted a wide range of primary source materials, many quite rare, and some in forms of early ecclesiastical Latin. Moreover, he has traveled to various revered scholarly archives in pursuit of data. Reverend Girard’s book provides the reader with a broad background of theology and history, as well as liturgy and ceremonial. For anyone desiring to understand the many, complex and unquestionably profound aspects of the meaning of the Paschal Candle in the Easter Vigil ceremonies, it is an especially helpful work. In many ways, it can lead the scholar of liturgy as well as the parish priest to a deep appreciation of the rubrics and guidelines pertaining to the Candle.’ – Monsignor David Q. Liptak, D.Min, L.H.D., Holy Apostles College and Seminary; Executive Editor, The Catholic Transcript

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
List of Figures
1. Textual History of the Paschal Candle Inscriptions
2. Models of Restoration and Reform
3. De Operibus Apum and the Sanctification of Time

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