Be part of this memorable Dominican tradition!
When is the Candle and Rose Ceremony?

The ceremony will be part of our rescheduled Commencement Weekend, September 5 - 7, 2020. More information on the date and time will be posted soon.

Who can participate?

Candle and Rose is a ceremony for undergraduate students who are graduating in May 2020, August 2020 and January 2021 or graduated in January 2020 and did not participate in Candle and Rose 2019.

Candle and Rose History

The essence of the Dominican University Candle and Rose is unchanging. In Caritas (charity) and Veritas (truth), Candle and Rose stands 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 or 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, Wisconsin.

What do you wear to Candle and Rose?

Seniors wear their cap and gown for the Candle and Rose ceremony. You do not wear any honor cords or a hood. Since the ceremony is in the Quad, participants are encouraged to dress for the weather and walking in the Quad. The Quad is uneven and it is recommended to be mindful of your shoe choice as heels tend to sink into the grass as participants (Seniors and Roses) will stand for the duration of the ceremony.  The Candle and Rose ceremony is a formal ceremony and roses are encouraged to dress appropriately. Jeans are not appropriate. Jackets may be worn. Seniors (candles) should wear a sweater or jacket under their robe.

I am an August/January graduate. How do I order a cap and gown?

It is your responsibility to purchase or borrow a cap and gown to participate in the Candle and Rose ceremony. All seniors participating in Candle and Rose are required to wear a black cap and gown. The Stepan Bookstore orders a limited number of extra caps and gowns that will be available on a first-come first-serve basis. Stop in as soon as possible and reserve today.  Since students now order "keepsake regalia" for the commencement ceremony, students can purchase their full regalia in advance of commencement if needed (i.e., not graduating until January 2021).

How do I participate?

To participate in the Candle and Rose ceremony, you must sign up both yourself and your rose, more information will sent out regarding registration to your Dominican email.

Who do I choose as my Rose?

Seniors (symbolized by the Candle) chose someone to be their Rose. The Rose is someone that represents the meaning of Caritas—Love and Compassion—to you. Traditionally, Roses were undergraduate students that the seniors would pass the Light of Truth (Candle) to during the ceremony. Your Rose does not have to be a current undergraduate student but should be at least 13 years of age.

Where do Seniors and Roses line-up for Candle and Rose?

Seniors and their roses need to line up in Lewis Hall, second and third floor classrooms. Each senior that signed up to participate in Candle and Rose will be assigned a classroom. The list of classrooms will be posted in the middle Lewis stairwell by noon the day of the event. The senior and the rose go to the same classroom. All seniors and roses need to be in their assigned classroom by 6:15 p.m.

You are advised not to leave anything in your classroom during the ceremony. Please leave purses or other personal items with your guests.

Is there a Candle and Rose rehearsal?

More information will be posted soon.

Do I need tickets for the Candle and Rose Ceremony?

The ceremony is free and open to anyone who wishes to attend. Seating is limited but there is plenty of standing room. Tickets are required to attend the reception in Mazzuchelli Hall following the ceremony. Everyone needs a ticket to attend the reception—including seniors and roses.

In the case of inclement weather, the ceremony is moved inside to the Lund Auditorium. There will be additional seating in the Martin Recital Hall with a live feed of the ceremony. There is limited guest seating available in the Lund Auditorium. 

What is the reception?

More information will be posted soon.

What happens in the case of inclement weather?

In case of inclement weather, the event will be moved indoors to the Lund Auditorium. Additional information will be posted if needed.

Will the ceremony be streamed live?

Yes, the ceremony will be streamed online for family and friends to view the ceremony from off campus whether the event is inside or outside. Please direct your family and friends to

Return to Commencement home page