(Salon Video)

In murder, prayer and the afterlife: Bodega candles are an ubiquitous and overlooked part of life in New York City

We talked with a priest, a santero and mourners about what candles mean to them


Asha ParkerPeter CooperPatrice WaiteKatie Levingston
May 5, 2016 3:00PM (UTC)

If you live in New York City there is most likely a bodega within a few blocks of your home. And that bodega likely carries candles encased in glass with images of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary or even Bart Simpson stamped onto the wax.

Dubbed "bodega," "sanctuary," "religious," prayer," or "saint" these candles are a common sight in the life of a New Yorker. They are used in street memorials to mark a death, they are found in storefront churches and giant cathedrals, they appear in tourist shops in Midtown and Botanicas in the Bronx.

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But although quite ubiquitous, their significance is often overlooked.

We talked with a priest, a santero and mourners about what candles mean to them and their answers were a stunning look into life, death and what comes after. Watch.


Asha Parker

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Peter Cooper

Peter Cooper is a video producer for Salon. He's a creator infused with many passions and can be found on Instagram and Twitter.

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Patrice Waite

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Katie Levingston

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