But on this, see Edmund Bishop in the "Downside Review", 1906.
The lighting of six candles upon the altar is now enjoined for every high Mass, four at every Missa Cantata , or for the private Mass of a bishop on festivals, and two for all other Masses.
As the Roman pontiff , according to the "Ordines", was preceded by seven acolytes carrying candles, and as these candles at a later period were placed upon the altar and no longer upon the pavement, it is a tempting hypothesis to identify the six altar-candlesticks of an ordinary high Mass (there are seven when the bishop of the diocese pontificates) with the acolytes' candlesticks of the Roman "Ordines".
We need not shrink from admitting that candles, like incense and lustral water, were commonly employed in pagan worship and in the rites paid to the dead.
But the Church from a very early period took them into her service, just as she adopted many other things indifferent in themselves, which seemed proper to enhance the splendour of religious ceremonial.
Again a bishop when taking part in any ecclesiastical function in the sanctuary has a little candlestick of his own, known as the bugia , which is held beside him by a chaplain or cleric.
Candles are also used in excommunications, the reconciling of penitents, and other exceptional functions.
The rubrics of the "Roman Missal " direct that at the Sanctus, even of any private Mass, an additional candle should be lighted and should burn until after the Communion of the priest.