Shrine: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Shrine

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The shrine of the Hodegetria at the Assumption Cathedral in Smolensk, Russia, photographed by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (1912).
The Shrine, Oil on canvas, by John William Waterhouse (1895).

A shrine (Latin: scrinium "case or chest for books or papers"; Old French: escrin "box or case")[1] is a holy or sacred place, which is dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, hero, martyr, saint, daemon or similar figure of awe and respect, at which they are venerated or worshipped. Shrines often contain idols, relics, or other such objects associated with the figure being venerated.[2] A shrine at which votive offerings are made is called an altar. Shrines are found in many of the world's religions, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Wicca, Chinese folk religion and Shinto, as well as in secular and non-religious settings such as a war memorial.[3] Shrines can be found in various settings, such as churches, temples, cemeteries, or in the home, although portable shrines are also found in some cultures.[4]

A shrine may become a focus of a cult image.


Types of Shrines

Chinese Buddhist household shrine 1850-1860, Bankfield Museum

Temple shrines

Many shrines are located within buildings designed specifically for worship, such as a church in Christianity, or a mandir in Hinduism. A shrine here is usually the centre of attention in the building, and is given a place of prominence. In such cases, adherents of the faith assemble within the building in order to venerate the deity at the shrine.

Household shrines

Historically, in Hinduism, Buddhism and Roman Catholicism, as well as in modern faiths, such as Neopaganism, a shrine can commonly be found within the home or shop.[5] This shrine is usually a small structure or a setup of pictures and figurines dedicated to a deity that is part of the official religion, to ancestors or to a localised household deity.[6]

Small household shrines are very common among the Chinese and people from South and Southeast Asia, whether Hindu, Buddhist or Christian. Usually a small lamp and small offerings are kept daily by the shrine. Some household shrines are on a shelf; Chinese shrines may stand directly on the floor.

Yard shrines

Small outdoor yard shrines are found at the places of many peoples, following various religions, including historically, Christianity. Many consist of a statue of Christ or a saint, on a pedestal or in an alcove, while others may be elaborate groupings, including paintings, statuary, and architectural elements, such as walls, roofs, glass doors and ironwork fences, etc.

In the United States, some Christians have small yard shrines; some of these resemble side altars, since they are composed of a statue placed in a niche or grotto; this type is colloquially referred to as a bathtub madonna.[7]

Religious shrines

Orthodox Christian shrine in Suzdal, Russia, from 1912.
Antoniusgrotte (St. Anthony of Padua's cave) in the Capuchin monastery in Rapperswil, Switzerland

Shrines are found in most, though not all, religions. As distinguished from a temple, a shrine usually houses a particular relic or cult image, which is the object of worship or veneration, or is constructed to set apart a site which is thought to be particularly holy, as opposed to being placed for the convenience of worshippers. Shrines therefore attract the practice of pilgrimage.[8][9]


Shrines are found in many, though not all, forms of Christianity. Roman Catholicism, the largest denomination of Christianity,[10] has many shrines, as does Orthodox Christianity.

Catholic shrine: glass coffin of Saint Catherine Labouré

In the Roman Catholic Code of Canon law, canons 1230 and 1231 read: "The term shrine means a church or other sacred place which, with the approval of the local Ordinary, is by reason of special devotion frequented by the faithful as pilgrims. For a shrine to be described as national, the approval of the Episcopal Conference is necessary. For it to be described as international, the approval of the Holy See is required."[11]

Another use of the term "shrine" in colloquial Catholic terminology is a niche or alcove in most - especially larger - churches used by parishioners when praying privately in the church. They were also called Devotional Altars, since they could look like small Side Altars or bye-altars. Shrines were always centered on some image of Christ or a saint - for instance, a statue, painting, mural or mosaic, and may have had a reredos behind them (without a Tabernacle built in).

However, Mass would not be celebrated at them; they were simply used to aid or give a visual focus for prayers. Side altars, where Mass could actually be celebrated, were used in a similar way to shrines by parishioners. Side altars were specifically dedicated to The Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph as well as other saints.

A nativity sets could be viewed as a shrine.


Pilgrims outside the Shrine of Imam Hussain ibn Ali in Karbala, Iraq.

Islamic communities have developed a rich tradition of shrine culture. Most Islamic shrines are dedicated to various Sufi Saints - spiritually elevated ascetics from various mystical orders within Islam, and are widely scattered throughout the Islamic world. It is a tradition to commemorate the death of the Saint, his so called "Marriage to God," by holding festivals at his tomb to commemorate his life. In several countries, the local shrine is a focal point of the community, with several localities named specifically for the local saint.

In some parts of the Islamic world, such as in Pakistan, these festivals are multi-day events and even draw members of the Hindu minority who often revere the Muslim saint, such as in the case of the famous Lal Baz Qalandar shrine in Sindh, Pakistan - an important example of religious syncretism that blurs the distinction between members of different religions. Sufi shines in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan are also host to a night of commemoration by songs and dances every Thursday. In fact, the Urdu word for Thursdays, Jumeraat, is derived from the practice of visiting shrines on Thursdays.

In Turkey, the famous Whirling Dervishes perform their dance at the shrine of Jalal-ud-Din Rumi in Konya, while in Morocco and Algeria, brotherhoods of Black African Sufis, the Gnouia, perform elaborate song and dances at the shrines of their Saints.

Further, Shia's have several shrines dedicated to various religious figures important in their history, and several elaborate shrines are dedicated to Shia Saints and religious figures, most notably in Kerbala, Najaf, and Samarra in Iraq, and Qum and Mashad in Iran. Other important Shia shrines are located in Mazar-e-Sharif ("the Noble Shrine") in Afghanistan, and in Damascus, Syria.

Numerous Shia and Sufi shrines were once located in Saudi Arabia, but were destroyed in the 1930's by Saudi Arabia's puritanical Wahabbi sect. Other important Shrines were once found in Central Asia, but many were destroyed by the Soviets.

According to hardline orthodox interpretations of Islam, such as that of the Wahabbis, it is totally forbidden to build building over graves. In fact, when the Wahabbists assaulted Makkah in their invasion of the Western Arabia Peninsula in the 1930's, they smashed every shrine they found, and were it not for the strong and powerful intercession of the local population, they would have destroyed the mosque built atop the grave of Prophet Muhammad. The Wahabbist sect of Islam has also inspired a hard-line and anti-Shrine ideology in traditionally tolerant and shrine-revering areas, such as in Egypt and Pakistan, on the grounds that they are forbidden within Islam, and in the case of Pakistan, are a throwback to pre-Islamic Hindu traditions. The intolerant view towards shrines in those countries is a recent phenomenon that threatens to destroy millenia-old reverance of shrines and holy places.


A Hindu shrine dedicated to the god Ganesh.

In Hinduism, a shrine is a place where a god or goddess is worshipped. Shrines are typically located inside a temple known as a mandir, though many Hindus also have a household shrine as well. Sometimes a human is venerated at a Hindu shrine along with a deity, for instance the 19th century religious teacher Sri Ramakrishna is venerated at the Ramakrishna Temple in Kolkata, India.

Central to a Hindu shrine is a statue of a deity, which is known as a murti. Hindus believe that the deity that they are worshiping actually enters and inhabits the murti. This is given offerings like candles, food, flowers, and incense. In some cases, particularly among devotees of the goddess Kālī in northern India, animals are sacrificed to the deity.

At a mandir, the congregation often assembles in front of a shrine, and, led by priests, give offerings and sing devotional hymns.


Buddhist shrine just outside Wat Phnom

In Buddhism, a shrine refers to a place where veneration is focused on the Buddha or one of the bodhisattvas. Monks, nuns and laypeople all give offerings to these revered figures at these shrines and also meditate in front of them.

Typically, Buddhist shrines contain a statue of either the Buddha, or (in the Mahayana and Vajrayana forms of Buddhism), one of the various bodhisattvas[12]. They also commonly contain candles, along with offerings such as flowers, purified water, food, and incense. Many shrines also contain sacred relics, such as the alleged tooth of the Buddha held at a shrine in Sri Lanka.

Site-specific shrines in Buddhism, particularly those that contain relics of deceased buddhas and revered monks, are often designed in the traditional form known as the stupa.


The two most well-known Bahá'í shrines serve as the resting places for the respective remains of the two central figures of the Bahá'í Faith, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. They are the focal points of a Bahá'í pilgrimage:


In the many different neopagan faiths, which include Wicca, Hellenic Polytheistic Reconstructionism, Neo-Druidry, and Germanic Neopaganism, shrines serve many different purposes.

In the neopagan religion of Wicca, a shrine is a place where the Horned God and the Triple Goddess are worshipped. However, they are more commonly referred to with the term "altar." In other Pagan religions, shrines may be dedicated to one or many different Gods and Goddesses. As in Wicca, household worship is usually centered around them.

Religions without shrines

Certain religions do not feature shrines at all, either because they believe they are fundamentally wrong, or because they simply do not need them. Spiritualism, whilst believing in a God, does not typically make use of shrines.

Secular shrines

In the United States and some other countries, landmarks may be called "historic shrines." Notable shrines of this type include:

By extension the term shrine has come to mean any place (or virtual cyber-place) dedicated completely to a particular person or subject.

See also


External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010
(Redirected to The Shrine article)

From Wikisource

The Shrine
by Sara Teasdale
From Helen of Troy and Other Poems Part II

There is no lord within my heart,
      Left silent as an empty shrine
      Where rose and myrtle intertwine,
Within a place apart.

No god is there of carven stone
      To watch with still approving eyes
      My thoughts like steady incense rise;
I dream and weep alone.

But if I keep my altar fair,
      Some morning I shall lift my head
      From roses deftly garlanded
To find the god is there.

PD-icon.svg This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1933, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 75 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SHRINE (Lat. scrinium, a case or chest for books, hence a casket; from scribere, to write, Fr. ecrin, Ital. scrigno), the term given to the repository or chest to hold sacred relics. Sometimes shrines are merely small boxes, generally with raised tops like roofs; sometimes actual models of churches; sometimes large constructions like that at St Albans, that of Edward the Confessor at Westminster, of Ste Genevieve at Paris, &c. Many are covered with jewels in the richest way, such as the example at St Taurin, at Evreux in Normandy, and that of San Carlo Borromeo, at Milan, of beaten silver; the largest series are those which were enriched with enamels. Sometimes the term is given to the chapel in which the shrine is deposited.

<< Shrimp

Shropshire >>

Simple English

A shrine was a container, usually made of gold or silver and was used to keep relics in.

Modern meaning

Today a shrine can mean a holy or sacred place with something important inside it, such as the tomb of a religious person. Shrines are built in the surroundings of grave of pious men. These are built to show respect and love for the one who died. People visit the shrines to pray for themselves and also for the dead.

Shrines are common in Muslim countries. However other countries also have shrines; in Japan, Shinto 'Jinja' are called shrines in English.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address