What Are The Tall Prayer Candles Called?

Prayer candles are a type of candle used in various spiritual and religious practices. They come in different shapes and sizes, but are often tall and slender. The purpose of a prayer candle is to accompany prayer and provide a visual representation of the prayers offered. The flame of the candle symbolizes the prayer rising to heaven.

Prayer candles may also be referred to as votive candles. The main characteristic that defines a prayer candle is its tall, cylindrical shape. This allows the candle to burn for an extended period of time while the person is in prayer. The flame serves as a focal point to help concentrate the mind during prayer or meditation.

Tall Prayer Candles

Tall prayer candles, often called votive candles or novena candles, are typically 6-12 inches tall and around 1-2 inches in diameter. Unlike short votive candles, the taller size allows for images, prayers, or petitions to be printed directly on the glass. This makes them ideal for focused prayer intentions and candle rituals.

The height of the candle gives it a distinct look on home altars or shrines. The slender taper also allows the candle to burn for many hours, even over days, as the intention or prayer is symbolically offered up in the smoke and light of the flame. These candles are most frequently associated with petitions and ritual in the Catholic tradition, but are also used in Santeria, hoodoo, Wicca, and folk magic.

While any candle can be used in prayer, the designated purpose of the tall prayer candle connects the physical candle directly to the spiritual act. The ability to customize the exterior with specific images and text deepens the symbolism and makes these special candles particularly suited for certain magical or religious rituals.

Other Names

Tall prayer candles are also commonly known by other names such as 7-day candles or novena candles.

The name “7-day candle” refers to the fact that these candles are designed to burn for approximately 7 days. They are made extra tall, usually 6-12 inches, so they can burn continuously for an extended period.

“Novena candle” is another common name that refers to a 9-day Catholic prayer ritual. These candles are used to accompany the novena prayers, so they are designed to burn for the length of the 9-day novena ritual.

Both “7-day candle” and “novena candle” point to the purpose of these candles to burn continuously over an extended period during focused prayer or petition. The terms highlight that tall prayer candles are designed to have an exceptionally long burn time compared to standard candles.


Tall prayer candles have a long history stretching back centuries. Their origins can be traced to ancient cultures and religious traditions around the world that used candles and fire in spiritual rituals and ceremonies. The Catholic tradition of lighting candles as offerings or to represent prayers traces back to at least the Middle Ages.

In Mexican culture, tall prayer candles emerged as a fusion of Catholic rituals with native spiritual traditions. Indigenous peoples of Mexico such as the Aztecs and Mayans burned fires and candles for their gods. When Catholicism was brought by Spanish missionaries in the 1500s, native cultures blended the new religion with existing spiritual practices.

This resulted in ritual use of candles by Mexican Catholics and the development of tall prayer candles depicting saints. The rich colors and embedded images aligned with indigenous arts and methods of honoring spirits. Over generations, the tall prayer candle became a mainstay in Mexican culture and Latin American Catholicism.

In the 20th century, mass production enabled tall prayer candles to become widely available. As Latin American immigrants came to the United States, the candles became a cultural touchstone and a convenient spiritual aid for praying and making petitions. Their popularity grew beyond just Latinx communities as other faiths adopted the practice of petition candles.

Religious Uses

Tall prayer candles are commonly used in various religious traditions as a spiritual aid to prayer, honoring deities or saints, and symbolizing devotion. Here are some of the most common religious uses:

In Catholicism, prayer candles are lit before images or statues of Jesus, the Virgin Mary or saints. The candle’s flame represents the prayer rising to heaven. Different colored candles may be used for different petitions. These candles often depict images of saints or religious scenes.

In Afro-Caribbean religions like Santería, tall glass candles surround altars honoring the orishas or spirits. Specific colored candles may relate to particular orishas. Offerings and petitions are made before lighting the candles.

In Hoodoo and other African American folk magic practices, candles play an important role. “7 day” candles featuring specific colors and images are burned to draw luck, love, money or spiritual aid through their symbolism and the candle’s energy.

In Buddhism, large candles may stand upon home altars, representing the Buddha’s enlightenment. Candlelight symbolizes wisdom illuminating the darkness of ignorance.

In Hinduism, tall spire candles may be used in puja ceremonies to temples, gods or goddesses. The flame honors the deity and carries prayers.

Prayer candles thus serve as a visual symbol of faith and devotion across many spiritual and religious traditions. Their lighting represents sending prayers, gaining blessings or making offerings to one’s chosen deity or faith.

Petition Candles

One of the most common uses of tall prayer candles is for petitioning specific requests or outcomes. These are often referred to as “votive candles” or “petition candles.” The candles are inscribed or decorated with images and words related to the desired petition. For example:

  • Green candles with images of money are used to request financial blessings or prosperity.
  • Red candles with hearts are lit for help finding love.
  • Blue candles with words like “healing” are used to pray for recovery from illness/injury.
  • White candles with the image of a school or books are lit by students hoping to do well on exams.

Petitioners will light the candle while praying or meditating on their intention. The gradually melting wax is considered to represent the prayer releasing from the person and moving toward manifestation. These candles come pre-inscribed for common petitions, but can also be customized with personal images or text. They allow the candle to symbolically “hold” the prayer even after the person is finished.


The color of tall prayer candles can have special meaning and symbolism. Here are some of the common colors and what they represent:

Red – Love, passion, and romance. Red candles are often used for spells and rituals involving love and relationships.

Pink – Positive emotions like affection, kindness, and inner peace. Pink candles promote self-love and emotional healing.

Yellow – Success, confidence, and energy. Yellow candles help with motivation, optimism, and prosperity.

Green – Growth, finances, and abundance. Green candles represent money, fertility, and good fortune.

Blue – Wisdom, patience, and tranquility. Blue candles provide inner peace and connection to spiritual realms.

Purple – Spirituality, imagination, and wisdom. Purple candles aid in meditation, psychic abilities, and spiritual understanding.

White – Purity, truth, and cleansing. White candles dispel negativity and provide spiritual focus.

Black – Banishing and reversing. Black candles remove obstacles, hexes, and negativity.

The color corresponds to different intentions, so selecting the right candle color is an important part of candle magic and prayer.

How They Work

The intended spiritual mechanics behind burning a tall prayer candle are based on symbolism and ceremonial rituals. The candle itself represents the prayer or petition being offered, while the lighting of the wick signifies setting the intention into motion.

As the candle burns down, it is believed that the petitioner’s prayer is gradually rising to the heavens. The smoke carrying the prayer to divine ears. Some believe that the closer the flame gets to the image on the glass, the more likely the prayer is to be answered. The complete burning of the candle signals the full manifestation of the prayer.

Additionally, different colors hold symbolic meaning and are thought to attract or correspond with specific spiritual forces. Saints or holy figures depicted on the glass also connect the prayer to particular religions or belief systems. So the choice of candle, color, and image all work together to spiritually “transmit” the prayer through the burning ritual.

Modern Uses

Tall prayer candles are increasingly being used for secular purposes beyond religious traditions. Their flickering flames can create a soothing ambiance and a meditative focus. The candles are often incorporated into new age rituals, meditations, or simply used to set a relaxing mood.

The tall, tapered shape lends an elegant accent to a space. The candles can be arranged on a mantle, shelf, or windowsill to establish a peaceful atmosphere. Their vertical form draws the eye upwards and creates a sense of grace and tranquility.

The act of lighting a candle can mark the transition into a calm, introspective state. Sitting quietly before the candle is a common secular ritual to clear one’s mind of stress and anxiety. Gazing into the flame can induce a light trance state and open awareness.

Specific candle colors may be selected for their associations, similar to the meanings ascribed in religious iconography. White candles can represent purity or new beginnings. Blue may symbolize peacefulness and relaxation. Green can signify growth and renewal. The colored light can focus intentions in a ritualistic way.

In these secular applications, tall prayer candles retain their spiritual essence while adapting to the needs of modern-day mindfulness practices, ceremonies, and decorative schemes.


To recap, the tall devotional candles often seen in churches, homes, and stores go by several common names. These include prayer candles, votive candles, novena candles, and petition candles. They originated within the Catholic tradition as a tool for focused prayer and petitions to saints or God. Today, prayer candles come in a rainbow of colors, each associated with a different purpose—love, healing, protection, etc. Their sizes range from small votives to extra-tall “7-day” or “9-day” candles meant to burn over an extended period while prayers are offered. While prayer candles remain an important part of faith practices for many, they have also gained secular popularity for relaxation, meditation, or simply setting ambiance. Whatever they are called, these tall candles serve as a classic symbol of hopes, prayers, and devotion.

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