Ancient sources talk about The Fortieth Day of the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Since January 6 was originally celebrated as the day of Christ’s birth, the 40th day fell on February 14. Once the celebration of Christ’s birth moved to December 25, the Fortieth Day fell on February 2. Eventually, it received the name Feast of the Encounter (Greek: hypapante), or Feast of Purification (Roman liturgy kept the name Purification of Mary until the last liturgical reform). The traditional light procession led also to the name Candlemas.
The event celebrated on February 2 is captured in Luke 2:22-29. Following the prescriptions of the Old Testament, a mother is to visit the temple 40 days after the birth of a boy and to bring a sacrifice for purification. In addition, the first-born boy belongs to the Lord. He must be presented in front of the Lord and redeemed. Jesus’ parents, upon visiting the Temple, encountered the prophetess Anna and the old Simeon. Both of them recognized Jesus as the Savior of Israel and thus give praise to God.
This feast was celebrated as early as the 4th century in Jerusalem with a light procession. It is also attested in Rome in the 5th century and eventually, it spread to Gallia (8th century).
Catholic liturgy can implement a procession with candles from a chapel, or a blessing of candles in the church. Liturgical texts talk about Christ who comes into his Temple.
Traditionally, people would take these blessed candles home and light them in moments of need (storms, epidemics, hour of death…).
You are welcome to bring candles to the Masses on Friday, February 2. The priest will bless the candles at each of the Masses: 6:00AM, 12:00PM, 7:00PM. These blessed candles can be taken home to light in times of need.