Shop Sells Candles Depicting Celebrities, Politicians as Religious Figures

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, Brooklyn Diocese, Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Media, Queens, NY

By Tim Harfmann

At ‘Awesome Brooklyn’ shop in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, you’ll find candles featuring everyone from Barack and Michelle Obama to Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

But the celebrities on these candles are depicted as religious figures, such as the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Some Catholics don’t find them funny.

A St. Patrick’s church in Bay Ridge, Currents News showed Catholics a candle of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“That is disgraceful! Woah!” said Deborah Nuzzo, a parishioner at St. Patrick’s. 

“That’s not right at all. It’s against religion,” agreed fellow parishioner Rosemary Donnelly. “You’re mocking religion, really.”

The eight-inch candles are made by a Texas-based company and are shipped internationally. 

Vanessa Raptopoulos, the owner of Awesome Brooklyn, sells these candles.

“I understand, and sometimes people come in and shake their heads and sort of get mad, but we’re a fun shop,” she said. “We’re just trying to honor these people because we love them. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about blasphemy or anything like that.”

“If you believe them and think they’re good people, well there are other ways to admire them and so on, rather than doing something like that,” said Rosemary.

Father Alessandro Linardi, who ministers to Catholics at St. Athanasius-St. Dominic parish in Bensonhurst, says lighting a candle is more than burning a wick.

There’s a symbolic meaning involved.  

“We light candles, why? To pray, to ask for His help, for His mercy, His grace. We ask also for the intercession of the saints, of our Blessed Mother,” Fr. Linardi explained.

The former First Lady, as well as Justice Ginsburg are top sellers at the Brooklyn shop. But with the upcoming Presidential Election heating up, one candidate is becoming very popular.    

“Most recently, Elizabeth Warren is my number-one seller, so I literally can’t keep her on the shelves,” Vanessa explained. 

But these Catholics say the presidential candidate doesn’t belong on the shelves at all.

“They should be ashamed of themselves, because they’re making a mockery of the saints and of what we hold dear,” said Deborah.