Leigh Hatts  

Candlemas at Ripon

Ripon Cathedral

Candlemas at Yorkshire’s Ripon Cathedral is always dramatic.

On Friday night there were around 4000 candles.

Lighting them started at about 5.45pm in order to have every one lit by the start of the Choral Eucharist at 7.30pm.

Ripon has a tradition of decorating every ledge with a light and even creating patterns and pictures with lights.

You could say that it is a bit like Lyon on the Immaculate Conception or, if you think it’s all a bit over the top, the Backpool Illuminations might come to mind.

However, Ripon Cathedral has a good reason for having  its own tradition.

Whilst Candlemas was downgraded after the Reformation there was little change at remote Ripon.

On 2 February 1790 a visitor recorded the building being ‘one continued blaze of light all the afternoon from an immense number of candles’.

This weekend there were around 600 people at the evening Choral Eucharist. The congregation formed a procession with lighted candles round the cathedral.

Some people had come a long way including a group from Preston in Lancashire. Most unusual was the party from New Zealand accompanying Ripon’s new Bishop, Helen-Ann Hartley, to be installed on Sunday.

Candlemas Bells, or Snowdrops, are out in profusion among the ruins of nearby Fountains Abbey.

Getting ready in the afternoon
Ready just before the congregation starts arriving
Lighting som oef the 4000 candles
A new design for 2018 on chapel floor
Lights are all round the sides of the cathedral

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