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Oblate Spring

First Book to Read (Page 1)

What's an oblate? (Page 2)

Becoming an Oblate (Page 3)

Links to Oblate Resources (Page 4)

Index (Page 5) to: 
Mini Index
Expanded Index

What's New (Page 6)


Prayer Corners, Home Shrines,
Home Altars, Mary Gardens

From space to prayer place

Definitions: Altars, Shrines, Sacramentals, Devotionals 

How to set up a home shrine or prayer corner -- the domestic church

The Contemplative House


Pictures of Inspiring Home Altars, Shrines, and Prayer Corners [click most pictures to enlarge]

A thank you to all who shared their pictures

Mary Gardens

From space to prayer place

I gradually changed the space in which I read/pray the divine office at home.  I have also changed the way I think about that space. In the beginning I read in a chair in the house.  Now it's a prayer place, a prayer corner used almost exclusively for prayer.  It is still the same chair in the same location, but my relation to that space has changed because of what's been added and how it is used. 

First I began listening to Music Choice's light classical channel on the TV while praying.  Then I began lighting a candle.  Gifts of Rosaries and pictures of St. Scholastica and St. Benedict were added along with a bookstand and small book rack from St. Leo Abbey's bookstore. Currently my prayer corner looks like this:

Definitions: Altars, Shrines, Sacramentals, Devotionals 

Recently, I thought that I might want something like a home altar.  A little research convinced me that while many people call them home altars, they are home shrines or places for devotional items.  Altars are in churches.  

One website referred to home shrines as places for sacramentals, but Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D, says that sacramentals are not objects, but the ceremony by which objects and places are blessed.  "Sacramentals are liturgical ceremonies instituted by the Catholic Church that bear some resemblance to the seven sacraments and dispose the Christian to receive and cooperate with grace." Each sacramental ceremony "includes a prayer of blessing accompanied by a sacred sign representing benefits obtained through the intercession of the Church."

Objects often called sacramentals are better described as "popular devotions," devotional articles," and even the aptly used "expressions of popular piety."

A sacramental ceremony is also different from one of the seven sacraments of the Church which are Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Orders, and Matrimony

How to set up a home shrine or prayer corner -- the domestic church

Fisheaters.com has an excellent detailed description of how to set up your house as a domestic church.  Fisheaters.com discusses the objects to include in a home shrine and the customs for a home shrine.

Of course, all of this is subject to what fits your style and taste.  The most interesting home shrines, prayer corners, and devotional spaces contain what is most meaningful to you and your family, this is your personal expression of piety and devotion.  Here are items you might consider adding to your prayer corner, home shrine, or personal devotional place.


Setting up a Home Prayer Corner or Home Shrine

If possible, home shrines should be on an East-facing wall

Table, shelf, armoire, box, or even a suitcase in special situations can be a place for the following items:


Tablecloth (change color to match liturgical season)

Large tiles (in lieu of or in addition to tablecloths)

A different colored rug can help define and set the area apart

Palm branches from Palm Sunday

Flowers -- with color to match the color of the liturgical season

Holy Water

Blessed salt

Wall sconces

Candles -- these may change with the season or for particular events

Oil lamp


Box to keep small items

Add a small shelf above a table



Books from the Early Church Fathers and the saints


Breviary for praying the divine office

Chair for reading

Book light

Bookstand for reading

Book rack

Prayer journal, pen

Icons (statues, paintings, other art)

Medals -- if you are Benedictine, consider the Medal of St. Benedict. Picture [V R S N S M V - S M Q L I V B] and its history 

Your favorite Bible verse, prayer, and blessing

A blessing for the house and guests

Pilgrimage mementoes (cockle/scallop shells, coins. etc.)




Stations of the Cross

Mysteries of the Rosary

Holy Cards and little stands on which to hold them -- Cards change with the calendar

Religious lapel pins/necklaces with crosses

Pictures of family members

Have a low section for children

Pick an overall theme for your home altar/shrine.

Group items in threes or have triangular shaped items -- such as votive holders -- for the Trinity -- this can also be an overall theme


Prayer cards

Certificate of a papal blessing (described)

Names of the dead

Sick-Call Set (example)

Prie-dieu (a kneeler for prayer -- picture)



The Contemplative House

My blog lists several easy steps to make your home more monastic and contemplative.  Prayer corners and home shrines are particular elements of the more general topic of establishing our houses as domestic churches.

Mary Gardens

The garden can also be established to remind us of God's work, especially through the Virgin Mary.  Mary's Garden is the source to get you started. If you have not thought about a Mary garden, the Mary's Garden website will open up a huge world.  If you are interested in the contemplative life, you will love this site.






Pictures of Inspiring Home Altars, Shrines, and Prayer Corners



Having a dedicated place for praying helps set the mood








The next series of pictures is from the
home of an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist in California. 
Barb is also Benedictine and applies the Rule of St. Benedict in her daily life. 

Barb provided the descriptions for the pictures, all picture captions are quotes from her.



"This is the main shrine I face from my chair.  Both large pictures above the table I got at church rummage sales. There is a holy card of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and a picture of family members.  In front of that is a relief of a host being raised above a chalice that was given to my husband when he made his First Holy Communion. In front of that is a rosary I recently made. A small Sacred Heart of Jesus, my standing crucifix from E-Bay with a rosary given to me by a man I've never met except on the Internet, but who was very instrumental in bringing me back to the Catholic Church. He sent me his rosary when I returned to the Church and it's precious to me. He's very dear to me. The icon of the Trinity I love, and the carved statue of Our Lady of Grace my Grandma gave me when I made my First Holy Communion at age 7. I treasure it. In front of the crucifix, you can't see it too well, but there is a tiny ciborium that is actually a pyx. I use it when I bring the Blessed Sacrament home when one of us is either sick, or when I'm going to take the Eucharist to shut-ins."

"This is on top of a small bookcase on the way out the door, but I like it. The crucifix of course... the Holy Water font I found on E-Bay. It is Belleek china from Ireland with a Eucharistic motif which I love. It's one of my favorite things in the room and is used multiple times a day. The Madonna and child is carved wood which I found at a church rummage sale and is from Germany. Below her is an old carafe from the church I put the extra holy water in. I found the vintage Sacred Heart picture at an Estate Sale, and then my St. Benedict crucifix that I bought at St. Andrew's Abbey."

"This is on a shelf you face as you enter the room. The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help came from a monastery in Romania. Next is a small holy card of of Jesus Pantocrator. The triptych is of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Jesus, and St. Benedict that Julia gave me. Next is the statue of St. Joseph that I found at a yard sale. The card of our Holy Father my friend brought me from her travels to Rome and the Vatican. It was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI. The next picture is an icon of Mary that was a gift to my husband when he came into the Catholic Church. The statue of our Lady is so very pretty and I actually found her at Goodwill."

"The large Sacred Heart statue and Our Lady of Lourdes are two statues that we found on Craigslist. I was thrilled! It was a great find. The large cross I found on E-Bay. They said it came out of a church - but who knows? It's like a scavenger's hunt! Fun to find things in unexpected places."


Now on to some other home devotions




An Icon Corner








The bottom two shelves are set up to be kid friendly.

This is the place for prayers as a family and individually. It also is the first thing anyone who comes in the front door sees so there is no doubt as to who the head of the house is.







Votive holders are triangular for the Trinity. There is a Catholic Bible
and a Belleek High Cross (Irish).  The person who created this is
artistic in other ways as well. 
She creates handmade decorative matryoshka saint softies. 
See her website: One Green Clover.



An icon wall according to the Byzantine tradition, followed by
Orthodox Christians and Byzantine-rite Catholics.





By a Benedictine Oblate in Quebec, Canada
[Click pictures to enlarge]

He has a cell in his home that includes a bed, library, desk, armchair, and an oratory. The oratory has a prie-dieu, a plain wooden chair, a crucifix, an icon of the Blessed Virgin and a repro of a painting of St. Benedict (not visible in the photo, it is behind the photographer)
The cell is modeled slightly on the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament at Saint-Benoît-du-Lac, the abbey of the his oblation. The floor (granite) is nearly identical. The idea came about when he underwent a career change and started working from home in 2006. They had to renovate what had been a laundry room and play room for the children who were by then all teens, and they had a decorator coordinating the changes. This Benedictine oblate threw in the idea for a prayer/meditation oratory. The prie-dieu was a gift from the prior at the monastery, and he bought the crucifix and icon there as well.

In the Benedictine spirit, he wanted to keep it as plain and simple as possible. It's where he does his daily Offices. For fun, he programmed all the offices in iCal on his computer and downloaded some various church bell tracks from some Solesmes Gregorian chant CDs.  All the offices except the very early morning ones, are marked by bells: for the little offices, there is a simple chapel bell 5 minutes before and a bell with six gongs marking the beginning of the office. Vespers is at 5 pm and is typically when he stops the day's work. He has the first bell 15 minutes before as a reminder to save his work and wind down the day; on Sundays this bell is the main bells from Solesmes. He does the same at Compline as a reminder
to finish what he's doing and get ready for bed.











The icons are St Michael and St Raphael. The statue of St Gabriel was found at a resale shop. The statue of Our Lady was found rather battered in a discount department store clearance bin. It has been  repainted. All of the house reflects the Western/Southwestern American style.



This is an earlier form of this home altar/shrine.  See below for a newer picture.



Prayer Corner v2.0 from a Flickr photo by marysuephotoeth. On the Flickr site, this picture has notes explaining each item as you roll your mouse over the picture -- very nice.

A public thank you:  Thank you to all the great people who graciously shared pictures of the sacred places in their homes.  Your love for God is seen in every detail. Each one shows the creative spirit. I was inspired by your expressions of beauty in the praise of God. 

And for everyone else, have you seen some good ideas?  I have. Time to create a home shrine or prayer corner in your home.

Do you have a prayer corner or home shrine, I would love to post it here.  Just e-mail me.

In my haste in working on this page, I might have made errors in the information I provided, if so, I am sorry and please let me know.  Read my blog explaining why I was distracted.