February 2 is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which recalls when Joseph and Mary presented the Child Jesus in the Temple. In Poland, they also commemorate this day as “Our Lady of the Thunder Candle” (Święto Matki Bożej Gromnicznej).
This tradition is related to the blessing of candles that occurs before Mass. Traditionally Catholics would attend Mass on this day and take home with them a blessed candle.
In Poland, this candle would eventually be called the “Thunder Candle,” and was primarily lit during storms, as well as to ward off wolves.
The University of Dayton explains, “The legend relates that Mary, the Mother of God of the ‘Blessed Thunder Candle’ (Matka Boska Gromniczna), watches over the people on cold February nights. With her thunder candle she wards off the ravenous pack and protects the peasants from all harm.”
While wolves are typically no longer a threat, Catholics still light the candles during thunderstorms, or during times of prayer.
The candles are also reminders of the Light of Christ and how Mary can guide us through the darkness of our lives.
The blessing of the candles that was previously used on this feast made these spiritual truths very evident.
Pour forth Thy blessing upon these candles, and sanctify them with the light of Thy grace, and mercifully grant, that as these lights enkindled with visible fire dispel the darkness of night, so our hearts illumined by invisible fire, that is, by the splendour of the Holy Spirit, may be free from the blindness of all vice, that the eye of our mind being cleansed, we may be able to discern what is pleasing to Thee and profitable to our salvation; so that after the perilous darkness of this life we may deserve to attain to never-failing light.
Traditionally this candle would be brought out when a person is on their deathbed, giving them the hope that Mary would lead them through their current darkness and into the light of Eternal Light.
Our Lady of the Thunder Candle, pray for us!