Friday, November 16

Vigil Lamps...

O Gladsome Light of the holy glory of the Immortal Father, heavenly, holy, blessed O Jesus Christ. 
Now we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening. 
We praise God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 
For meet it is at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise, O Son of God and Giver of Life, therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.


One of the things that is really lovely about icon corners is the oil lamp that sits in the center of the shelf shining its light into the darkness of a room in the evenings, reminding the faithful that "Jesus Christ is the light of the world that illumines our souls".  It is surprisingly easy to find the things that you need to have your own oil lamp and it is not too difficult to tend and keep lit.

The first thing that is needed for a vigil lamp is a glass vessel to hold the oil.  There are many sources online for beautiful lamps, but all you really need is a glass that is wide at the top (to prevent soot from accumulating).  The next thing to find is a floating wick or a wick-holder.  Our family prefers cork wick holders (and so my instructions will reflect that), but you can use any sort of wick holder.  Next, you'll need wicking.  The cotton wick is threaded through the center of the float with just a little bit above the hole and the rest dangling down into the oil.  Finally, you'll need oil.   The custom among Orthodox Christians is to use the best oil available as an offering to the Lord.  For some this means olive oil which has traditionally been used and for others this may mean a type of vegetable oil as it burns more cleanly and does not produce soot (which soils the walls and ceilings above the icon corner).

Some nice things to have on hand are:  matches or a lighter, tweezers and/or manicure scissors to trim the wick prior to use and also to pull the wick through the hole in the float a bit each day, and a small dish to put underneath the vigil lamp to catch oil drips.

Once you have everything you need, you are ready to set up your lamp.  Put oil into your glass and thread your wick through the float.  Place a small dish on the shelf and put the oil lamp on top.  Light your lamp and enjoy it's light through the night.  In the morning, you can simply blow out the vigil lamp (gently so as not to blow oil everywhere) or push the cork float down into the oil (this is called sinking the float).  When you are ready to relight your vigil lamp, use your tweezers to gently pull off the burned part of the cotton wick (trimming the wick) and bring a little bit more of the wick up through the hole on the float.  Relight the wick and that is it!

One word of caution:  Do not allow the oil in your lamp to get too low.  If it does, the glass can explode.  Use common sense when leaving your vigil lamp burning.  We keep ours burning through the night, but we do not keep it lit when we leave the house.  We have also hung our icon shelf on the higher side to keep it away from little hands. 

1 comment:

elizabeth said...

Nice post! my lampada is hanging and has a metal think bar with the wick part in the middle that stays on the top part of the glass of the lampada... so once the oil goes down enough, the wick burns out, until I add more oil, fix the wick and relight... for those that don't have this type, I know many who put a bit of water at the bottom of the glass so that when the oil runs dry and the wick is still burning, the water will cease it from burning out and explode the glass... FYI... :)

vigil lamps are incredibly heartening for us!

have a great day!

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