Build a Catholic altar at home?


We are seriously trying to purchase a wonderful home in the mountains. In touring the property numerous times, it has yielded a small cave at the foot of the property that is semi-spacious with a view of the trees and mountains.

When looking at it, you think it’s just a simple cave and nothing can be done with it aesthetially, but for some reason I instantly thought about a small altar in there. Perhaps a lovely stone Virgin Mary statue that is in there or something like that.

Is this kosher with the Church? Is it forbidden? Tacky? Good?


That sounds like a lovely kind of wayside shrine and it will be right there on your own property!! Are you familiar with “The Little Oratory” by David Clayton and Leila Lawler? It’s a book about creating spaces for prayer in the home. What you have described sounds like a rustic version of what they recommend for every Catholic home.


What a fantastic opportunity you have to build a shrine to our Savior or his Blessed Mother…we have a home altar…if I had a small cave on my property that would be the first thing to do…go ahead and build your shrine…it’s not forbidden…nor tacky…and enjoy the peaceful serenity you will find there…there are many such places through out Europe


This! It sounds wonderful.


I think it sounds like a beautiful opportunity! :thumbsup:


When I was a kid growing up in the country, we had little grottos everywhere. We even had one up in a tree. We have some land now, and do have some statues. But I’m glad to have read this thread. A place we bought recently has a creek with a bluff overlooking it. A statue or so up on the top of the bluff among some cedar trees just occurred to me.

Thank you for the thought. :slight_smile:


This is one of those moments when the use of language is very important.

Having a shrine in one’s home is indeed a good thing and can be a great help to one’s prayer life. A personal oratory, for those who have the means, is also a wonderful thing. Creating an outdoor devotional space, similarly, can be a wonderful thing.

People will use the phrase “home altar” – but it is a loose usage of the term and often has nothing altar-like about it at all.

An altar, properly speaking, is for the offering of Mass, which is governed by specific norms in law. Given that here you are speaking, in essence, of creating a grotto shrine, I assume by altar, you mean a true and actual altar of sacrifice. You would do well to consult ecclesiastical authority for your diocese before erecting such an outdoor altar.


I gather that the OP is thinking of an outdoor shrine, or perhaps a grotto, since he speaks of a cave.


Sounds like a great place for a replica of the grotto at Lourdes. I made one at home, but I’m using a pine tree as the “grotto” because of the lack of a cave.


Which is why it is important to understand the terminology that the person in employing.

In Europe, what your photo shows would be considered a wayside shrine; there is no altar incorporated into it

This photo below, however, would be an outdoor altar, at which Mass could be offered.


Forgive me on the terminology. Yes, I meant a shrine and not an altar. There are lots of boulders, rocks, and caves. I feel that I could make something beautiful there. I was only asking because, when I was a child , I was told that having a shrine like that in the home is blasphemous is some way and that only such elaborate shrines should be at Churches only.

Please pray we can get this house :o


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