Sunday, July 03, 2011

St. Patrick's new virtual candles light up Cathedral website

Clicking your prayers is old news but now you can click your virtual candle (and make a "suggested" $5 donation) to St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, too.

The grand Fifth Avenue cathedral, which draws 5 million visitors annually, ignited the digital service today to tout its revised website and make the candle-lighting practice available online everywhere.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan lit a for-real six-foot candle that's intended to stand in for the virtual ones. 

Then, taking a cue from Pope Benedict XVI tapping out a tweet, he lit a virtual one as well. 

The candles -- in any form -- represent the Biblical teaching that Christ is "the light of the world," according to the Archdiocese.

The idea's not original to NYC. In April 2010, Santiago de Compostela Cathedral launched their digital candelabra.

A website devoted to the medieval Cathedral says it was once one of the three most important pilgrimage destinations in the world after Jerusalem and Rome.

According to Time, the Spanish cathedral's virtual candles blinked on in April 2010 via a
... computer screen mounted on a metal stand decorated with the Cross of St. James, allows the faithful to remotely light a virtual candle to a favorite saint through the website (translation: MyCandle). Simply click on the church and icon you want, type in your credit card or PayPal information. Each each candle costs about $2 and in a dark corner of a faraway church, an onscreen candle "lights." The candles can also be lit via text message.
The Telegraph reported that "armchair pilgrims" can use the online candle services for 10 churches in Spain.

In Manhattan, the fund-raising connection is not too subtle.

Technically, it appears you can still make a prayer and light a candle and get an automated thank-you note from the rector without making a donation. 

But you have to patiently fill in a lot of zeros in the blank places for dollars and credit card info. 

You can't submit those with the blanks empty.

Of course, YOU would never think of lighting a candle in person without making some donation, would you?

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