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A shrine ( "case or chest for books or papers"; Old French: escrin "box or case") is a holy or sacred place, which is dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, hero, martyr, saint 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. 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. 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.

This modern definition of a shrine is an extension of the original definition that was used in late antiquity, that of being a container, usually made of precious materials, used especially for a relic and often a cult image.

Types of Shrines

Temple shrines

Most 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. 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.

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. Mostly household shrines are on a shelf, but 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, many 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. Nativity scenes are also a form of yard shrine.

Religious shrines

Shrines are most commonly found as a place of religious significance, and 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.


Shrines are found in many, though not all, forms of Christianity. Roman Catholicism, the largest denomination of Christianity, has many shrines, as does Orthodox Christianity; however Protestantism, another type of Christianity, is typically opposed to them.

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."

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 Altar, since they could look like small Side Altar. 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 or other saints.

The long Roman Catholic tradition of veneration of saints has produced an impressive number of notable shrines, some of truly international renoun. There are separate articles on:

A shrine may also designate a small altar in a home or place of business, or a room or item of furniture, which is decorated with religious symbols and used for private worship, as was common in the polytheist periods of Classical Antiquity. Devotions are generally to ancestral or tutelary spirits.


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

Muslims do not have shrines dedicated to Allah, and consider such a thing to be idolatry. Brelwis, which is sector of Islam in pakistan and india, allows to have shrines and there are lots of shrines of brelwis scholars and Ullama spread throughout the world ,But according to islam and all schools of thought it is totally haram or makrooh(tehreemi) to build building over graves, because Jabir(r.a) said : « The Messenger of Allah (saw) has forbidden plastering graves, to make them a place to sit, or to build over them constructions ». the ka'bahmarker, a central box in the city of Meccamarker is not a shrine it is actually the Qibla for Muslims.

On the other hand, Muslims have differing opinions on shrines and the intercession of saints (Tawassul). Shia Islam maintains a tradition of venerating late religious leaders (as there is no hierarchical church, the bond is personal; but often a 'successor', maintains a following) and/or martyrs (usually at their grave). Shrines are even made in honour of the descendants of Shī‘ah Imāms, thus the Persian word imamzadeh. There are also sunnite equivalents, as among the ascetic marabouts of West Africa and the Maghreb.


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 Kolkatamarker, Indiamarker.

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.


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. 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 Lankamarker.

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.

Select list of shrines by location



  • Basilique Marie-Reine-des-Apôtres (Mary Queen of the Apostles Basilica) in Yaoundémarker.



  • Our Lady of Carmel shrine in Tianjiajing, Henan.






Saudi Arabia

Masjid al-Nabawi is not actually a shrine rather its just a mosque(Arabic masjid for mosque).The prophet Muhammad used to live in the place next to the mosque.The mosque was constructed later.The actual space covered by the mosque was simply a 98*110 ft open space which later on was expanded many times.The present day mosque is hundred times bigger than the actual one.The place where Prophet Muhammad is buried used to be a cottage of one of his wives, Hazrat Ayesha.So later expansions has also included the resting place of the last Prophet.

Sri Lanka







Czech Republic





  • the minor basilica of Our Lady of Knock Queen of Ireland [BVM] in Knockmarker



  • minor basilica of BVM Assumption in Aglonamarker


  • the minor basilica of National Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu [BVM Assumption] in Għarbmarker





United Kingdom

North America



United States

See also: Roman Catholicism in the United States#Top six Catholic pilgrimage destinations in the U.S.
  • [[Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary|
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Basilica of the National Shrine of the]]; in Baltimore, Maryland

South America



  • in Sydneymarker, St. Mary's Cathedral, a minor basilica
  • in Melbournemarker: St. Anthony's National Shrine, National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and National Shrine of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

See also


  1. [Sahee Muslim, Hadeeth # 2116]
  3. Basilique Marie-Reine-des-Apôtres, shrine
  4. Pontificio Istituto Missioni Estere (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions): "Our Lady of Carmel shrine in Tianjiajing safe for now." November 12, 2007.
  5. Fushimi Inari-taisha
  6. Fukuoka/Hakata Tourist Information website: Hakozaki Shrine
  7. Hiyoshi Taisha
  8. Ise-jingū
  9. Tsurugaoka Izumo Taisha
  10. Iwashimizu Shrine
  11. [1]
  12. [2]
  13. [3]
  14. [4]
  15. Yuki, Diego, S.J. "Japanese Martyrs Shrine;" Second Asian Congress on Pilgrimages and Shrines: Fr. Renzo De Luca, S.J., Rector of the Japanese Shrine of the 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki. November 2005.
  16. Shrine of the 26 Martyrs
  17. [5]
  18. [6]
  19. Kasuga Shrine
  20. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLITT): Usa Jinju Shrine
  21. Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré
  22. Insigne y Nacional Basílica de Santa María de Guadalupe
  23. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  24. National Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos
  25. Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest
  26. National Shrine of the Divine Mercy
  27. Basilica of Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians
  28. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
  29. Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
  30. Jaffa Shrine
  31. Light Of Truth Universal Shrine
  32. National Shrine of the Little Flower
  33. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower
  34. National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe
  35. See Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia#Shrines of Philadelphia.
  36. Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament
  37. National Shrine of the North American Martyrs
  38. Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation
  39. National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa
  40. Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
  41. National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
  42. National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows
  43. Our Lady of Victory Basilica National Shrine
  44. National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
  45. National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi
  46. National Shrine of Saint John Neumann
  47. Shrine of Saint Joseph
  48. See Katharine Drexel and National Shrine of St. Katherine Drexel
  49. See Rita of Cascia and National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia.
  50. Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America

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