Holding torches during the Elevation

Holding torches during the Elevation

Dan Mitsui at the Hieronymous blog posts some medieval art showing deacons and subdeacons holding torches during Mass at the Elevation. He asks if anyone has more information about this.

I don’t but, I did want to note that at Melanie’s parish, St. Louis, King of France, in Austin, the eight altar servers knelt in front of the altar holding huge candles during the Consecration and Elevation, but not during the rest of the Canon. I think it might be related.

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  • They’re called “Sanctus” torches and are still permitted for use—although, for practical reasons, they’re not seen all that often. But they are still used at papal liturgies….

    Depending on the solemnity of the occasion, they can be any even number of acolytes/servers (up to eight) with the thurifer usually in the middle. They process to the front of the altar before the Eucharistic Prayer (hence the name “Sanctus”), placing the torches aside and returning to their places at the memorial acclamation….

  • I attended Benedictine HS in Richmond, VA, during my freshman year 1969-70. BHS is a Catholic, military HS, and during the monthly all-school Mass (specifically during the Consecration), the cadet officers would circle the altar, draw their sabers, and salute as the celebrant raised the Host and the Chalice.  If my memory is correct, the Institution Narrative was also accompanied by a roll on a snare drum and several thumps on the bass drum at the Elevation.  It was extremely dramatic, and to me, inspiring. 

    I hadn’t thought of that in 35 years. I wonder if they still do it?

  • We have two “torch barers” at our weekly Traditional Mass.  In fact, my son serves as one of the torch barers most every week.  These are Sanctus lamps….ie; glass enclosures with candles inside.

  • I know about liturgical torches carried by altar boys who kneel with them during the canon – I see them all the time at St. John Cantius.  At Midnight Mass there were 12.  But the ones in the pictures are held by the deacon and the subdeacon, in the free hand while the other lifts the back of the chasuble for the elevation.