Church buildings and furniture, the Roman Catholic Church - continued

As well as main features, like the altar and tabernacle, there are other features to look out for:

  • The Paschal candle is also known as the Easter candle in the Roman Catholic Church. It is a very large candle which is decorated with important Christian symbols. These include the letters alpha and omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, which symbolise the belief that God is eternal. During the Easter service the candle is lit and is carried up through the church, reminding the people of the light of Christ’s resurrection overcoming the darkness of the tomb. Therefore, the Paschal candle is a symbol of Christ rising from the dead. The Paschal candle is also lit during baptisms. An ordinary candle is lit from the Paschal candle and is handed to the baby’s parents. This is a symbol of the faith being passed on to the child.
  • Other candles - Candles play an important part in Roman Catholic worship, symbolising the light of God which shines eternally. Worshippers may light a candle in front of them if they are seeking help or guidance. Anyone who wishes to pray privately in church may light a votive candle to help them.
  • Stations of the Cross - The Stations of the Cross are unique to the Roman Catholic tradition. Each of the 14 stations represents a stage in the last events of Jesus’ life and his journey to the cross. They may be carved in wood or stone or simply painted as pictures. During Lent and Holy Week (particularly on Good Friday) Catholics will visit their local church to meditate on the Stations of the Cross and use them as a focus for prayer. They will stop at each station and reflect on the suffering Jesus went through on their behalf.
  • Statues - Mary is given a very important place in the Roman Catholic Church. She is shown great respect because she is regarded as being the mother of God. Statues of Mary show her wearing a red garment, which symbolises her humanity. Over this is placed a blue cloak which symbolises the divinity God placed upon her when he gave her the task of giving birth to His son.
  • Crucifix - A crucifix is an artistic representation of Christ on the cross. It symbolises the suffering of Jesus and reminds Catholics of the significance of his death. A crucifix is placed on the altar.
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