These aromatic candles have a higher calling
Prayer and scent evoke particular saints.
By Alessandra Da Pra, Times Staff Writer
Published February 29, 2008
PALMA CEIA WEST
Surrounded by burgundy-bound leather Bibles, fine glass rosary beads and "made in Italy" statues of Jesus Christ, Darlene Yetta sits behind the counter of her Catholic gift shop, Just for Heaven's Sake. A lighted candle gives off a fresh scent - St. Jude's Bamboo Breeze.
"Do you know about our Saintly Scents candle line?" Yetta asks Sharon Henriquez of Odessa, a first-timer at the Palma Ceia store.
Yetta, 53, launched her line of 12 devotional candles in October 2006. Jesus had 12 apostles, but the number of candles was pure coincidence, she said.
Each candle is scented to reach the heavenly nostrils of a particular saint, together with the prayers of the believers.
"I have wanted to do something with the saints for years," Yetta said. "I thought, we all burn candles and we enjoy scented candles at home, and the scent can remind us to pray."
Yetta matched each saint with a particular scent after reading many books about the Roman Catholic Church.
She said that because St. Jude wrote the epistle of Jude to the churches of the East, she found it only proper to match the bamboo breeze scent to the saint.
Saintly Scents candles are poured specifically for the store by a local factory that makes candles. Each costs $16.99 - $15.99 if purchased online atwww.saintlyscents.com - and burns an average of 80 to 120 hours.
Henriquez, 53, who stopped at the store to shop for her granddaughter's baptism, chose the St. Francis' Fresh Linen candle.
She is particularly devoted to this saint and said she visited St. Francis' hometown of Assisi in Italy several years ago.
Walking the same streets the saint had walked gave her goose bumps, she said.
"He is such a gentle saint; he loved all animals," Henriquez said. "The story was that he came from a very rich family and gave up everything to follow the Lord."
St. Francis was said to be the son of a cloth merchant, which is why Yetta made his candle smell like linen.
She gave the candle named for St. Christopher, known as the patron saint of travelers, a "tropical paradise" scent.
Father Raymond Ruiz of St. Catherine's Mission, which ministers at nursing homes in Tampa, is a regular customer of Just for Heaven's Sake. Immaculate Mary's Lily of the Valley candle is his favorite.
"Every time I light up the candle, I am reminded of her, and do a prayer for her every time I smell lilies," he said.
Yetta matched this particular flower to the Virgin Mary because "lilies are a sign of humility in religious art."
Yetta says the practice of lighting candles during prayer is ancient.
"It's in Revelation 8:4: The smoke of the incense, along with the prayers of the holy ones, went up before God from the hand of the angel," she quoted from the New Testament.
Yetta is proud of her enterprise and hopes her candles will encourage people to pray.
"I guess God put it on my heart to do it," she said.