Why do believers of the Roman Catholic church seek the blessing of "perdón" candles every February 2?

Jovita Bastida, a candle vendor for decades at the Basilica del Santo Niño in Cebu has her share of answers according to the beliefs, devotion, and tradition of her forebears. 

February 2 is celebrated as the Feast of Our Lady of Candles (Nuestra Señora Candelaria or Nuestra Señora Purificacion y Candelaria) which is based on an event in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary recorded in the New Testament.

Mary under the title "Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria" is commemorated in the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. 

Mary is claimed to have participated in a rite of purification according to the ancient Candlemas festival that finds roots in Halakha or Jewish law which guides believers on "how to behave."

While most people would call the taper candle as "Candelaria," some prefer to call it "perdón" which means pardon, forgiveness or absolution in Spanish. Thus, grandparents who have grown to the religious tradition of the feast passed on the celebration to today's generation. 

The candle finds use mostly during weather disturbances. It is believed that the light of perdón candles either drives away catastrophes or offers protection at the onslaught of calamities.


The District of Jaro in Iloilo City cradles a National Shrine of the Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria at the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral. 

On the Feast of Our Lady of Candles, the traditional rite of the blessing of perdón was held before the Solemn Pontifical Mass which was presided by Archbishop Jose Romeo Lazo.

According to a post by the Archdiocese of Jaro, Commission on Social Communications, the perdón symbolizes Christ, the "light of the world, a symbol of hope especially in trying times, when the world seemed to have been enveloped by darkness, anxiety and fear brought about not only by the pandemic but by the challenges of everyday, the calamities we experience both natural and man-made."

In his homily, Archbishop Lazo emphasized the guiding presence of the Candelaria in people's lives as Catholics.

"Nagadala bala ako sang iwag sa akon isigkatawo ukon sa katilingban? (Do I radiate with the Light, or of Christ, to my fellowmen or to society)" the archbishop said.

(Additional information courtesy of Archbishop of Jaro, Commission on Social Communications)