Household Shrines in a Multi-Religion Household


Apologies if this is the wrong section for this question, but it seemed like the most appropriate place. I’m specifically looking for the opinion of Catholics, but I’m interested in the opinions of others generally.

My boyfriend and I are discussing marriage and the possibility of becoming engaged soon and that brought up an interesting subject tonight. Being a practicing Norse heathen, I keep some small shrines in my home among other discrete spaces for varied religious purposes. My boyfriend is a very devout Catholic and I notice that he also has his own “shrine” in his home with statuary and imagery of Mary, Jesus, and his patron saint along with space where he keeps his rosary, books, and some other paraphernalia that I’m not quite sure about. If we were to get married, naturally we would be living in the same house and our respective religious spaces would intersect a little.

We had a good chat about it and it’s something we’ll have to think more on, but I’m curious about how Christians in general would feel about living with “idols”.

How would you feel about living in a house with active shrines to deities that weren’t part of your religious faith? If it made you uncomfortable, what do you feel would be an acceptable compromise?


Personally, I wouldn’t like it.

Honestly, I cannot see myself marrying someone who isn’t Christian.
So, I believe this is an issue that you two will have to resolve. To say the least, this is a complex situation.


It´s complicated. I´m a convert myself and searched my way through many different religions, neo pagan streams included. My husband also had a norse pagan background, even when baptized protestant. We met and felt in love when I wasn´t a christian yet.
It was more difficult that you imagine for the first time. There are days you carry a bad modd and are especally annoyed when you see the idols, on my case, but you understand, on the other hand, that the person you love is simply at the same point like you some months before. So you need to be patient. Be a good example.
My husband didn´t converted yet, but he prays with me, visits my church, and stopped worshipping at his former shrine. I wa shappy at the same time with having a bad feel about my own thoughts of “convincing him to much”. So, it takes much strength on both sides. You don´t marry someone to change him, but you also need to accept change in marriage. I thank God I have a wonderful, honest and understanding husband, but I won´t even imagine the trouble if he was less commited to our marriage than he actually is.
Whatever you do, good luck!


If the house was simply a house-sharing arrangement between roommates or platonic friends, then I could determine at the time I agreed/ didn’t agree to the arrangement if Roommate’s shrine was acceptable to me. Obviously if it’s a shrine to Satan or a voodoo god, it’s not okay with me and I wouldn’t want to live with the person. If it’s a Hindu or a Buddhist shrine, then that might be okay with me as long as the person respects my religion and perhaps we agree to put our respective shrines in our own rooms and not in the common areas, etc.

However, when a couple are discussing marriage, this goes well beyond being comfortable with having some shrines around. As a Catholic, I did not mind dating and was open to the idea of marriage with Protestants or even Jewish men, as long as they respected my views. I would have been okay with them having their religious shrines or other stuff in the house and in fact one of my houses still has a mezuzah on the door frame left by the previous owner. But I would have been less comfortable dating/ considering marriage with a “Norse heathen”, not just because of shrines but because of the extreme differences in our religious views.


What is a practicing Norse heathen?


Someone who worships Odin, I guess?


Each of us are different. Personally I would not do it.

Personally, I would never marry a non-Catholic to begin with. There would be no acceptable compromise, aside from conversion to Catholicism. But that’s just me.

If you’re trying to figure this out for your potential husband-to-be, it’s really something you’ll have to discuss with him. His answers will probably vary greatly from ours.

And, as a side note, another important discussion to have would be whether children would be raised Catholic or not.


I’d say you two need to have a few more conversations.

If he is a devout Catholic, will he want a Catholic wedding? Will he want to have children raised Catholic? Will you agree to both if they are important to him?

This is a very complicated situation. I’ll be honest, there is no way I would have dated or married a pagan because I wanted my family raised Christian (and now Catholic).

I have lived with roommates who were pagan or Wiccan. That was no problem, but for a Catholic, marriage is so much more than a house sharing arraignment. It is a sacrament. The husband and wife are supposed to unite together as they both seek salvation in Christ.

People make these mixed marriages work, but I haven’t the slightest idea how they do it and remain devout to their particular faiths. Hopefully someone in this situation will respond.


I can only second the family aspect. We have no children yet, but we agreed to raise them in the christian faith. You will need to face this question, whatever you decide. It´s another situation when both are on the same side when they marry and later one converts, and every reasonable priest I ever heard on this issues talked about “be a living good example and pray for him/her” instead of “this won´t work, try to convince him/her”. But in your situation, you are in the fortunate situation to discuss this before you bind yourself.
Are you on the same side with birth control/the meaning of marriage/etc?
No one here can answer the questions for you, but you do well asking them and answering them as an engaged couple. This might be a general thing (not only in religious issues) - ask whatever comes to your mind before you marry.


What is Heathenry?

Essentially, it’s a branch of modern polytheism that reconstructs pre-Christian Germanic, Norse, and Anglo-Saxon religion. There are a number of basic differences in theology between polytheism and the more syncretic panentheist types of modern neo-paganism like Wicca, so the convention has been to use the term “heathen” instead. Practicing to me just means that I’m very involved with my religious community and spirituality, so it’s a daily practice.


In theory idols should pose no problems to a Christian because we do not believe they have power.

I think the main issue to discuss is that the Catholic Church will expect your children to be baptized and be brought up Catholic. If you can accommodate that, then I’m sure together you’ll find a way to accommodate religious artifacts you each find meaningful.


I don’t have any shrines at my home.


One of the things I’ve heard from exorcists is that the stuff you bring into your home— you give the entities attached to that “stuff” a claim on you. I haven’t encountered it myself, but I’ve had friends and family members who have experienced it firsthand. So in general, I would expect a serious Christian, and especially a Catholic, to be cautious about what’s not only brought in, but actively cultivated, in their household.

Someone who’s more secular in their experience would probably view a religious shrine as art, or as artifacts, or as empty decoration, or as knickknacks, or as background stuff, or something like that. But others— either through instinct or through experience— are more likely to perceive it with more negativity/hostility. It would likely be perceived as an overreaction by others. But it’s not the object, but the entities that are attached to the object, that is the target of their negativity/hostility.


I’ll bet this was a common occurrence back in the early church, when the Romans had shrines in their homes, and the Christian might be the only one in the household who was non-Pagan.

Does anybody know historical precedent, like from lives of the early saints?


I have heard of pagan couples having more than one altarspace or shrine space in their home for the different deities then having one that is shared between the couple with their United ideas of divinity. Maybe something like that could work.

I think many people are ignorant that the earlier pagan gods have been in the background of Catholicism for some time. Especially in things like architecture. They are just no longer primarily worshipped.

As some have stated part of the requirement of Catholic marriage is raising the family Catholic.

Depending on how open minded your potential spouse is I hope all that works out for you.

I almost was in a mixed marriage but unfortunately it didn’t work out.

It is hard when people have different faiths but sometimes that common ground is extra special when despite all the differences one has a mutual understanding.

I don’t think we should run out and demonize our pagan brothers and sisters as Catholics. Many of our ancestors used to believe in similar things they do.

We do have a certain understanding of demonology… but without proper knowledge our experience can lead to persecution or superstition.

So back to the original question.

Discuss this with your partner.

See how he sees your view of deity. See if it is appropriate.

I don’t know why you are asking us on here and not him.

This is something you guys are doing together.

Both of you should have more say so than us.

Anyway that is all.

Blessed be.


I mean, obviously, it’s something we’re discussing between the two of us. I’m just curious about trends and how Christians think about sacred space since I grew up in a non-Christian household. I’m happy to just have our spaces in separate rooms, but I can see how it might be upsetting for a Christian to have a shrine to an unfamiliar deity in their bedroom for instance. He’s doing his own thinking about it right now before we revisit the idea.

I think we have the kids angle sorted out. I have no problem exposing our potential kids to both religious traditions. He can have the kids baptised, take them to Mass, say the rosary at home, all that stuff, with the understanding that I’m not going to stop openly practicing my faith either, especially since I have a role as clergy in my community, and will allow the kids to participate in that to the degree that it’s appropriate for their age and if they want to. We can agree that it doesn’t have to be a contest between us, because everyone ultimately decides for themselves regardless of their upbringing. He and his siblings had a very sheltered traditional Catholic raising and 6 out of 8 of them left the faith anyway. So, we’re on the same page that it’s more important that kids learn to think and deal with complex situations as part of their growth than it is to make sure they’re only exposed to “the right and true path” with less capacity for critical thinking, introspection, and keeping faith in a problematic world.

We’re in no hurry, so there will be a lot of talking with various people and probably a sit down with his priest at some point.


I personally wouldn’t have a shared shrine between Jesus and another god


Quite frankly, I see a heap of land mines in your future relationship. Paganism and Catholicism are simply too incompatible.

I really hate to see either of you get hurt :confused:


It’s not my cup of tea :tea:


We have sources mainly from the upper class and the nobility, for example from the slavs. In those cases, the Christian spouse often refuses to attend pagan ceremony and prays in her own privacy ( in most cases it’s the women who was christian first, there’s even a term for a woman/wife who evangelize her pagan household, mulier/uxor suadens). Spouses hadn’t shared bedrooms in this time, so chances are high those women simply kept their icons in their chamber and stayed away from official pagan ceremonies. But I don’t remember a source where a spouse destroyed a house shrine for example.

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