“Speak, Mary, declaring what you saw, wayfaring…’Christ, my hope, is arisen.’” –from the Easter Sequence
The Paschal Candle has always captivated me. It calls to mind the Easter fire bursting into life, our procession into the darkened church with our candles burning, the brilliant light of the church aglow as we sing the Great Alleluia. Seeing the candle burning throughout the 50 days of Easter stokes the flame of Christ in my own heart even more, and propels me forward with hope and joy into my life in the world.
Since coming to Saint Meinrad, the candle has taken on even more meaning for me. Actually, it’s the candle stand, or as they say here, the paschal candle column, that has brought new meaning. The column is massive, standing six-and-a half feet high. Designed and sculpted by Sr. Jeanne Dueber, SL, it was cast in bronze by Bright Foundry, Inc., in Louisville.
The imagery on the column is striking. It celebrates women throughout the ages who have given witness through their lives to God’s power and grace. The column has a series of seven rings bearing two or three images each, ascending in chronological order from biblical days though the 20th century. It begins with Miriam and Hannah on the bottom ring. The next ring up highlights Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus. Then the rings continue through various eras of Christian history until culminating with Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day, and Sr. Mary Luke Tobin, SL, on the seventh ring.
What a rich message this candle stand proclaims. Just as Mary Magdalene received the good news and shared it with the disciples and others, so do all of these generations of women quite literally hold up this light of Christ in the heart of the Archabbey Church. Their witness brings women and men together in the joy and wonder of the resurrection.
In the candle column, we hear the echo of the voice of women ringing out over the years. The strength of the past nourishes our hope now and for all our tomorrows. Mary’s proclamation continues to be proclaimed in our lives today… “Yes, Christ my hope is arisen…”
From the Easter Sequence:
Speak, Mary, declaring
What you saw, wayfaring.
“The tomb of Christ, who is living,
The glory of Jesus’ resurrection;
“Bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
“Yes, Christ my hope is arisen.
To Galilee he goes before you.”
For more about the art and architecture of the Saint Meinrad Archabbey Church, see http://www.saintmeinrad.org/the-monastery/art-and-architecture/