Prince of Peace Paschal candle holds special significance

April 22, 2014

HOUSTON — When the light of the Paschal candle burns bright Holy Saturday evening at Prince of Peace Catholic Church, spare a thought for the artist whose unique design the candle bears.

Joan Radven put in days of work painting the five-foot tall candle for her northwest Houston Catholic community, at 19222 Tomball Pkwy., and may be the only person in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to lend her talent for this particular endeavor. 

“She is definitely an artist,” said Father John Keller, Prince of Peace pastor for 14 years. “She works very hard on every stage, from the initial struggle with concepts to the final execution. Even the final delivery during Holy Week is a labor of love and attention to detail.”

For the past 26 years she has been performing this service, Radven has worked around a different theme, and this year is no different. 

Inspired by Pope John Paul II’s call “Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ,” inscribed over the entrance to the church, Radven incorporated yellows and oranges as background to signify the light of Christ. 

Reluctant to give too much away before anyone sees the candle, she said her design incorporates the cross as a central tenet, as is tradition.

“One of the things we look forward to at Easter is seeing what the candle will be this year,” Father Keller said. “It is always a surprise and a part of the newness of Easter.”

An artist by training who taught art and worked as a graphic designer, Radven, 75, started exploring liturgical art after her four children were grown. She realized she had something to offer her church community.

“It’s definitely an honor to be able to use my talents like this,” Radven said. “I feel like there’s a very strong push in our parish to use your gifts. My gift to give that others can’t is my artistic talents.”

Radven worked on her first Paschal candle — just three-foot high — in 1987 and has painted every Paschal candle for Prince of Prince since. 

The candle has become increasingly larger over the years, reflecting the worship vision of previous pastors and the increasing size of the worship space. “I feel very blessed to be able to do this and have a place where it is appreciated,” Radven said.

Weighing 35 pounds with a 13-inch circumference, this year’s candle came from The Sacco Company in Houston. Radven uses a special stand in her studio to hold the candle to be able to easily reach its length and breadth. 

Radven starts the process off by drawing the design on paper and then transferring it to the candle, to be painted in acrylic.
“My inspiration is purely from the Holy Spirit — it just pops in my mind,” she said.

The finished product is a thing of beauty, and according to Father Keller serves not only a prominent role at Easter, but also as a teaching tool in parish life thereafter. “She cares, and she creates,” he said.