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Contoocook-made candle will be lit by Pope Francis at Ground Zero on Friday

Last modified: 9/24/2015 4:12:06 PM
On Wednesday afternoon, Christine Marklin walked out of a back room and into the front retail space at Marklin Candle Design, where her husband, Martin, was standing. The liturgical candle they held just moments before was packaged, ready to be shipped that day, she announced.

“Praise God and his angels and all the saints,” Martin Marklin said.

Marklin’s praise-worthy candle, one of thousands the company produces each year, is one of the most significant candles that Martin has made during three decades in this industry. Friday morning, Pope Francis will light the Contoocook-made candle at a interfaith service at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City.

“It’s quite an honor,” Martin Marklin said. “The pope is going to go to Ground Zero, a place where a horrible tragedy occurred, and at that moment he’s going to call the world to pause and to pray for peace and healing. And that’s a significant moment.”

Marklin Candle, owned by Martin and Christine, received a call just this month asking the company to make candles for the pope’s visit to the United States. Marklin created commemorative candles for Wednesday’s Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., altar candles for the Mass at Madison Square Garden in New York City and a special liturgical candle for the ceremony at Ground Zero.

“Pope Francis, however, asked that those candles be plain and unadorned in keeping with his style,” Martin Marklin said of the dozen altar candles the company made for the Madison Square Garden Mass. These candles will be lit before Pope Francis begins Mass, Markin said.

It’s the candle that will be used in New York City on Friday morning that holds the most significance for Marklin.

“What’s unique about the candle . . . for Ground Zero is that is a candle he himself will personally light. So that’s a big deal,” he said.

The 9-pound hand-decorated candle took several days to make. It is made from 51 percent beeswax, which meets a past requirement of the Catholic Church for its liturgical candles. The candle is adorned with the papal coat of arms and includes 22-karat gold leaf, the decoration of the candle. Near the top, stanchions were added for a hand blown glass globe to protect the flame from the wind when it is lit outside.

Marklin called the candle priceless but said it cost hundreds of dollars to make.

“There’s a lot of logistics that go into actually just orchestrating this one candle. People will look upon that day and not think anything, all that went into the production and fabricating of this one candle,” he said. “The altars and the chasubles and the chalices and all that stuff is designed months in advance. We candlemakers, we’re in the bottom. We actually didn’t get the call until just two or three weeks ago.”

Marklin became a candlemaker in his teens. He went to the seminary at age 13 and first made a liturgical candle as a high school sophomore when the woman who had made candles at his parish stopped. Three decades later, Marklin has moved from his parents’ basement in St. Louis to an 11-acre property in Contoocook.

He has previously made candles for papal visits to the United States. Marklin Candle created a candle in 2008 for Pope Benedict XVI and in 1995 for Pope John Paul II. But this one holds special meaning for the Marklin family.

“Christine’s parents were in New York in the Empire State Building on 9/11. So that day has particular significance for us, as it does for many Americans,” Martin Marklin said.

On the bottom of the candle, Martin and Christine added a personal touch: the initials of their four children, Matthias, Judith, Simeon and Anna. The Marklin family made the same mark on the candle used by Pope Benedict XVI as well.

“I think the thing is we all want a life that is better for our children and our children’s children. It’s a way to keep our children in front of us. I think if we have our children in front of us, on our minds, we’ll make different decisions,” Martin Marklin said. “We want a world to pass onto our children and our children’s children, we as a society need to seek peace.”

Marklin, who will not be in New York this week to see the candle lit, spoke warmly of Pope Francis, who has been the head of the Catholic Church since 2013.

“This is particularly exciting because this pope is shaking things up. . . . There’s an authenticity about this pope,” he said. “I have a good feeling about this pope and what we’re able to do. . . . I think something’s going to happen that’s more than this one candle between Marklin Candle and Pope Francis. Let’s just put it that way.”

(Susan Doucet can be reached at 369-3309, or on Twitter 


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