The beginning of the Easter Vigil centres around light... not a concept or a symbol of illumination in general but a very specific light. The light of Christ which is so necessary in today's world.
The Easter fire is lit and blessed then the Paschal candle is lit and taken in procession to the Church. A hymn called the Paschal Praeconium is sung in praise of Christ and the candle. A few years ago our Parish Priest asked us to put the transfer on the candle which seemed a bit dull for such a centre-piece of the liturgy, so we asked if we could do something a bit more worthy.
It takes time but is a beautifully concentrated activity that needs to be done slowly and accurately and prayerfully, something that can keep our mind on the mysteries of Easter as we build up to the Triduum. Pierpaolo and I take turns in painting and we try to listen to sacred music while we do it. (Pierpaolo's been listening to Bach's Passions non-stop all week).
Each year we come up with a different design based around the cross, date and alpha and omega which must be on the candle.
This year we read through the Exsultet in detail and it is full of striking images and interesting details so we thought we'd design something that summarised all of those. A veritable cornucopia of signs and symbols. First up the Angels and trumpets that begin the praise of the candle and this Easter night.
Then the Church itself which 'shakes to the sound of the Exsultet' and brings the light of Christ to the world (the painting shows our own Parish Church). The morning star and other stars of heaven with which the light of the candle mingles during the vigil. The doorposts marked with the blood of the lamb protecting those inside from the Angel of death. The waters of the Red Sea divided and flowing from a shell as a sign of baptism which washes our sins away and brings us to freedom. The mother bees who produce the wax for the candle as creation itself participates in the commemoration of the paschal mystery.
The rising sun in an arc which depicts the time within which the Easter vigil takes place (after sunset and before dawn). The sun is surrounded by smaller flames which represent our own baptismal candles as we individually bear witness to the light of the world and of course Christ at the centre, the alpha and the omega with the date, the year of our Lord 2016 because 'all time belongs to him and all the ages' tonight the studs representing Jesus's glorious wounds will be inserted into the candle and it will be carried in procession. Beyond this night it will be lit throughout Easter and at every baptism through the coming year.