Inside of any Target chain store, shelved between fluorescent light ceilings and sprawling linoleum floors, a selection of Catholic votive candles can be observed. Slotted among a vibrant array of scented, home decor candles, and neon markdown tags, the votive candles are simple cylinder-shaped, glass containers, nearly filled to the brim with a myriad of colored wax. The main varying features are the brightly colored labels pasted on them, which display detailed depictions of assorted Saints, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. The paper labels are meant to emulate stained glass windows typical of a colonial style Catholic cathedral.
These religious symbols which envelope the votive candles, recall specific physical attributes of a Catholic temple - an altar, a stained glass window, and a religious figure on a mantel - and allow you to bring it into your home. In a culture driven by mass consumerism, where the easily consumable is valued above most everything else, the catholic votive candle - available at your local Target - is spirituality fashioned into something neat, convenient, and easily accessible. It has been seamlessly integrated into the rituals of consumer culture - the monthly shopping trip, where it can be plucked off of a shelf along with toiletries, cosmetics and other store bought necessities.