The essence of the Dominican University Candle and Rose is unchanging. In Caritas (charity) and Veritas (truth), Candle and Rose stand testament to the many years of Dominican tradition in River Forest. The first ceremony was held in 1928, encouraged by Sr. Constanza, an English professor at Rosary College. Held on the North Terrace, as Lewis Hall was not yet built, students marched in rows of 15, commemorative of the mysteries of the rosary.
Graduating seniors walk with lit candles; their partners, generally underclassmen, carry roses. Two lines process across the upper and lower Cloister Walks, assembling in the Quadrangle. The symbolism of this event is explained, and the exchange of the candle and rose is made. The seniors are reminded to be faithful to the teachings and standards of the Dominican tradition. They receive a rose as a living symbol of the beauty, love and compassion they have experienced at Dominican. The rose, long held dear in the Dominican shield, holds the promise of Caritas. The seniors bestow upon their partners the truth and knowledge they have gained. Each senior will present the candle to his/her partner as a symbol of the light of learning. The candle symbolizes the light of knowledge, the light of Veritas. Light is passed from the senior graduates to their partners.
Until the mid-1970s, Candle and Rose was limited to seniors and juniors only. In fact, during the early years of Rosary College, the Cloister Walk was the exclusive domain of the sisters and seniors-a junior was afforded her first steps across its sacred stones as she participated in the ceremony. As we’ve evolved as a community, the person most representative of Caritas Veritas in the graduating senior’s life is afforded the special honor of marching on the Cloister Walk. In addition, long white dresses, de rigueur for the juniors during the 1950s and 1960s, are no longer required.
Candle and Rose represents tradition: the Dominican tradition of truth and charity. Through the years, Candle and Rose is the most stunning representation of Dominican values-St. Clara’s College to Rosary College-Rosary College to Dominican University. As the curtain of time closes ever diligently each graduation eve, a diverse, holistic community of faith stands ever strong, moving progressively forward, meeting the challenges of a complex, dynamic world. Dominican University’s Candle and Rose ceremony speaks of the ages, of Dominican tradition, of Rosary pride, of a history that began in 1901 in Sinsinawa, WI.