Family Altar


Hello All!
I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter, and am living on my own for the first time. I have been trying to figure out a way to bring the Faith into our little apartment so she can experience Jesus and His Mother (Mama Mary as my daughter calls her) everyday.
I have begun learning about family altars, and I was wondering if anyone else used this practice?

Here are a few links for more info:
The Domestic Church: The Catholic Home
The Seven Dolors of Mary: Catholic Prayers and Favorite Devotions (there is a link for Family Altar)
That Christ May Reign:The Family Altar
Catholic Heritage Curricula: Domestic Altar Family Altar
Pray the Rosary: The Family Shrine


I live in a little one-bedroom flat but still found room for a prayer corner in my living room :thumbsup:

It has pictures of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Sacred Heart and St Joseph, another nice icon of Christ Pantocrator, prayer books and Bible, Rosary, votive candles, flowers, a little bottle of Holy Water, a crucifix on the wall above.

My parent’s house is amazing, they seriously could furnish a full-size church with the religious items they have around.

It’s best not to call them altars, though, strictly speaking the word ‘altar’ is only for places where the Eucharist is celebrated.


Yes, we have a family altar! Great idea! I saw your ‘Fisheaters’ link last November, and decided it would be really good to make an altar. I’m using an old hutch that’s been in our family for generations. It houses our holy card collection and many rosaries. Right now, a statue of St. Joseph is there because it’s March; his month. But I do change the focal point to other saints throughout the year. I’ll probably put a crucifix there for holy week. Mostly it’s our lady who is there at the altar–who else?

In Genesis, the patriarchs all built altars out of stone when they experienced something important from God. They would pile one stone on top of another so that, when they passed that way again, the rocks would serve as a reminder of what God had done for them. So as you put your altar together, maybe think of them and the meaning the altars had for them. There altars were put together as an act of love; they were making a pact with God. Also, our family altars can be places where through prayer, we offer up our lives to God daily.

Genesis 8:20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

Genesis 12:7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

Genesis 12:8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.

Genesis 13:4 Unto the place of the altar, which he had make there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

Genesis 13:18 Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.

Genesis 22:9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

Genesis 26:25 And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac’s servants digged a well.

Genesis 33:20 And he erected there an altar, and called it EleloheIsrael.

Genesis 35:1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.

Genesis 35:3 And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.

Genesis 35:7 And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother.


We do too.

In our kitchen, we have an altar, a glass shelf on which is an 18" statue of Sacred Heart of Jesus and a few other smaller statues and candles.
In ds’s bedroom on top of his bookshelf, he has a altar, many statues and candles.
In our bedroom, on one wall we have many holy pictures including a 18"x20" picture of the Sacred Heart. DH says his prayers in that area.
Also, we have a crucifix on the wall, in each of the bedrooms.


down here it is a feature of most Catholic homes because it is a Mexican tradition. The websites look great, but if I was trying to do this on a budget for a little one I would look for plastic and wood. A small plastic patio table with a white cover from the dollar store–our often carries table covers with religious themes. This keeps it at the child’s eye level which makes it more immediate for her.

the idea, I think is to have a place separate, by its decoration if not by space, from the other activities of daily life. If you hang a curtain rod on the wall behind it, with a lace or nylon panel, blue maybe, or the liturgical color of the season, it will make the place look more special, more apart (or use white or ecru so as not to clash with your decor). A friend’s house hase sheer curtain panels with ivy and flowers behind her altar which looks fantastic.

Autom has inexpensive statues and crucifixes, resin is sturdy, attractive and safe to handle. Actually our dollar and grocery stores usually carry a good selection, especially at Christmas and Easter time. A crucifix on a stand, a statue of Mary and of your favorite saind. A pillar candle in glass bought from your parish, NOT the dollar or grocery store will be safer, but I would only light it while you are actually standing there praying. Always place any candle on a glass or metal saucer or stand. A child’s wooden rosary with large colorful beads, a vase of flowers–let her pick the flowers in season even if they are weeds.

Icons and pictures–buy cheap frames from the dollar store and frame pictures cut from greeting cards or old calendars. To make them safer use extra cardboard backing and remove the glass.

some symbol of the liturgical season–palms, Easter egg, etc. look for an inexpensive wood or resin child’s nativity for Christmas, they also now have Holy Week-Easter sets.

It depends on space, but I would keep it simple, yet have everything that can be handled by a child. Personally I would do without a candle or put the candle on a mantel or high shelf nearby.

A child’s bible-story book or prayerbook.


Having an Altar is a great idea. I have one in my home that was blessed by a priest.


bump bump-bump-bump-bump bump bump (for anyone who is confused, that is to the tune of shave and a haircut!)


We have them scattered throughout the house. The “main” one is in the hallway between the bedrooms on a wide shelf/ drawer thingie from Ikea, where the brass Mother Mary with Babe resides, with the giant crucifix…and all the rosaries. We also have a primitive of St. Francis in the kitchen (known here as St. Frank, patron of cats and coffee). It resides on a little garden table, such as the one annie described. The girls have one each in their room, currently housing St. Joseph and St. Patrick (I think they are dueling over March). And then in the back is “the grotto” with the gen-u-ine cee-ment Mary, ensconced with landscaping and flowers that change through the seasons.

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