Eternal light

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The eternal light is an everlasting light in the synagogue and the Catholic Church . It serves as a symbol to remember the constant presence of God .

Eternal light in Judaism

The ner tamid above the Torah shrine in the synagogue

In synagogues, the eternal light ( Ner Tamid ) is in front of the Torah shrine . It usually burns in a container hung from the ceiling by chains. The esch tamid used to be another eternal light that was placed in the altar of the Mishkan .

Eternal light in the Catholic Church


The eternal light is a lamp that burns continuously and indicates the location of the tabernacle in which the consecrated hosts are kept. As an Old Testament prophecy is seen ( Isa 60 : 19-20  EU ):

“During the day the sun will no longer be your light, and to brighten the night the moon will no longer shine for you, but the Lord is your eternal light, your God your radiant shine. Your sun doesn't set anymore and your moon doesn't wan anymore; for the Lord is your eternal light, your days of mourning are over. "


Eternal light in a catholic church

The custom of attaching an eternal light to the tabernacle came to Europe in the 13th century, derived from the custom in the Orthodox churches of the East, where such a light is placed in front of the iconostasis . It was already common there around the year 400. Lights were left burning on the graves of the martyrs and in front of the altars . For this purpose, the original candlelight was replaced by the oil lamp, which was mainly fed by olive oil .

The main function of the eternal light is to burn as a sign of veneration in front of the Holy of Holies kept in the tabernacle . In the basic order of the Roman Missal it says: “According to traditional custom, a special light, nourished with oil or wax, has to burn constantly at the tabernacle, which indicates and honors the presence of Christ.” Although this color is nowhere prescribed, the eternal light burns traditionally in a lamp with a red shade.

There are different types of lamps: as traffic lights hanging from three chains, attached to the wall or as floor lamps in the immediate vicinity of the tabernacle. In the Triduum Sacrum , the eternal light on the tabernacle is extinguished on Maundy Thursday after the transfer of the ciborium to its temporary storage location after the celebration of the Last Supper and only re-lit for the glory on Easter Vigil, as the tabernacle is temporarily empty.


  • Rudolf Fattinger: Liturgical-practical knowledge of props for the pastoral clergy , for theologians, architects, artists, art and parament workshops . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1955, pp. 92-95.
  • Manuel Uder: Eternal light always red? In: praxis gottesdienst , issue 5/2012, p. 7. ISSN  1610-1847 .

Individual evidence

  1. GRM, 316
  2. CIC, can. 940

Web links

Commons : Eternal Light  - collection of images, videos and audio files