Russian Orthodox Liturgical Resources

Liturgical Handbook
of the Practices of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
Return to Handbook IndexРусская версия
Handbook of Liturgical Practice of the Russian Church Abroad
Liturgical Question:
What type of oil should be used in church lamps?
Handbook Category: Icons, Church Adornment and other Practical Matters (index)

Despite the fact that many people, desiring piously and rightly to present what is best to the Church, assume virgin or extra virgin olive oil is the best type, since it is generally considered to be the best for cooking, it is not actually the finest oil for use in church lamps. The best oil to be used in lamps is non-virgin olive oil, which burns more brightly, with less flickering, and does not so swiftly clog up wicks and floats.

Explanation: Virgin olive oil is considered best for cooking since it is the oil that flows off of crushed olives without being pressed, and therefore contains an abundance of minerals and other elements that enhance flavour, but which clog up lamps and create dull or flickering flames. Non-virgin olive oil is produced after this initial drainage, by pressing the olives — by this time the minerals and other elements have already flowed away and what is left is an oil freer of these, which is generally considered less flavourful, but in terms of lamps burns much more cleanly and brightly. This is a rare occasion on which what is more expensive is not actually what is best for Church use.

Welcome

This Liturgical Handbook is provided as a resource on the liturgical customs and practices of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

Ask a Question

Do you have a liturgical question that isn’t covered in the Handbook? You can submit your liturgical question here, for a reply from the Diocese.

Liturgical Resources

Full resoures on the liturgical heritage of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

Altar Servers

'To Serve in My Father's House': a primer on the spiritual nature of service in the Altar