Personal Shrines

When I was travelling in southern Germany and Poland last summer, I was struck by the number of personal shrines, devotional images, statues, and other items of devotion.  Not just in churches, but in neighborhoods, road intersections, on walls of homes, and in yards.  It was wonderful to see.

The Good Shepherd on house wall

004 old house w shrine WZ

Statue in Polish yard

156 house decor w StChristopher

Fresco painted on house

143 modern crucifix on house wall

Crucifix on house

When I look around my own hometown, I see all around. . .  not expressions of Christianity but of Eastern religions:  Buddha or Shiva statues in gardens, many Tibetan prayer flags hanging from rooftops, fences, and porches.  I thought I’d do something to openly share my own faith, at least in my yard, and decided to make an Orthodox-style small shrine with an icon inside.  I painted the icon with acrylics and a heavy varnish of marine spar varnish.  I think that will be more durable outside in the elements.

I made one for a friend, who built the wooden shrine for the icon.  He chose St.Michael the Archangel.  It is installed in his backyard as a special prayer spot.


I made one for myself, this one 2-sided.  It is installed on my front deck, one side facing our front porch/entry, the other into the private deck as a prayer corner for our family.  One side is Theotokos & Child Jesus, the other side is Christ Pantocrator.

I hope that this small witness to faith in our Lord Jesus might inspire someone else to create something beautiful in their own space.

About reinkat

I am an iconographer, and have been studying Russian/Greek icons since 1995. I'm married with 3 children. I love hiking, camping, animals, my family and church--and icons.
This entry was posted in art, Catholic icons, Catholicism, Christian Prayer, Icon, Iconography, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Personal Shrines

  1. SaintlySages says:

    We have done it. An edifying, inspirational tradition. Thank you for posting pictures of your beautiful iconography.

  2. kathleen says:

    This is a very moving post! I have often come across lovely little Catholic shrines along the way when out hiking in the mountains of southern Spain, some of them miles from any human habitation, yet they are always clean and well cared for. (By whom, I wonder?).

    They are poignant reminders for the traveller that we walk the pilgrim path of life with God, the Blessed Virgin, and all the angels and saints by our side.

    Thank you, Reinkat. And your icon is exceptionally beautiful.

    • reinkat says:

      Seeing them in Germany and Poland, I wondered the same thing. Some of them are in very remote places, and it is a joy to be on a long hike in, say, the Alps and suddenly see a trailside shrine in the forest, a place to stop, pray, ponder, and give thanks.

  3. What beautiful work you’ve wrought! I wonder why the tradition of personal shrines hasn’t grown in the U.S. My Buddhist mother always had a shine in the house. We have our crucifixes, but that’s as far as it goes.

    • reinkat says:

      Thanks for the comment! I can only think that in this culture, certainly in the northwest, too many people are afraid to express their faith. We only have Tibetan prayer flags here, and statues of the Buddha, but Christians seem reluctant to reveal themselves to the sometimes vicious criticism that comes with overt expression. It makes me sad.

      • I wonder though, how many of those prayer flags and statues are for show; not because there’s any real spiritual value? And looking again at the icons in your post. That one of Michael is so very beautiful and powerful.

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