Gemma Animae (8): Quid cereostata significent

Ch. 8

What the Candlesticks Signify.

Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, Rome

As the bishop goes to his seat, the candlesticks are moved from their places and, except for the first, set up as a single line towards the altar. The candlesticks express the sundry gifts of the Holy Ghost, and the single line represents the unity of the Holy Ghost in each of his gifts. It begins from the first, because the Holy Ghost proceeds from Christ towards the altar, that is, he goes unto the hearts of the elect [1].


[1] This description is a bit obscure. It seems that, during the bishop’s confession, the acolytes had deposited their candles somewhere in a horizontal line parallel with the altar, something like this:

Next, when the bishop has made his confession, incensed the altar, said the  Collect, and gone toward his chair, this arrangement is altered, and the line of candles pivoted around the first to make a line perpendicular with the altar.

Righetti offers this description of the disposition of the candles during the entrance procession at the beginning of the ancient papal Mass (OR I), on which the rite described by Honorius is based:

“At the end of the choir, the procession divides in two: four candle bearers pass to the right and three to the left. They go to place their candlesticks on the ground behind the altar, which is to say between the altar and the assistants, while the pope passes through the two rows of the cantors and places himself at their head.”

“All’altezza del recinto della Schola, il corteo si scinde; quattro ceroferari passano a destra, e tre a sinistra; e vanno a deporre i loro candelabri per terra dietro all’altare, cioè fra l’altare d l’assistenza, mentre il Pontefice, attraversando le due file dei cantori, si porta in capo ad essi..” (165-166).



Quid cereostata significent.

Episcopo ascendente ad sedem, cereostata mutantur de locis suis in ordine unius lineae, excepto primo, usque ad altare. Per cereostata varia dona sancti Spiritus exprimuntur, per lineam unam, unitas Spiritus sancti in singulis donis denotatur. A primo incipit, quia Spiritus sanctus a Christo procedit usque ad altare, id est ad corda electorum pervenit.

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