Personal Altar


I’m planning to create a personal altar in my apartment for prayer purposes. Has anyone here done this and, if so, does anyone have suggestions for what I should purchase? I already have a nice table that will do very nicely and I plan on buying a censer and incense on my next payday, along with a new crucifix and statues of each of my patron saints (Michael the Archangel and Stephen the Martyr). Is this appropriate?


It seems to be very appropriate. Maybe purchase a kneeler and a chair. The chair so if you want to do some spiritual reading it will be more comfortable. I wish I could have a room like that in my house, but the house is really small even for my husband and I.



Sounds great. Personally I would include a statue or picture of Our Lady in there somewhere as well. It’s nice to place any religious items you have on your altar - rosaries, Bibles, prayerbooks or Missals and so on.

Other things you might want to include are candles, flowers, and perhaps a bottle of Holy Water to bless yourself with. You can probably obtain the holy water simply by taking a clean empty bottle to your church - many will have a special tank labelled ‘Holy Water’ where you can fill up your bottle, or else it may be possible simply to fill the bottle from the stoop where you bless yourself as you enter.


It does sound nice. Now you have inspired me! If I were to create one, I think I might like to have a kneeler (with a knee pad and a shelf), and a wall crucifix or an image of the Divine Mercy… I would dedicate it to the most holy wounds of our Lord Jesus. And every day I would like to reach to kiss the five wounds (whether on a wall crucifix or artwork). What would be really nice would be to create a niche in the wall (inset), that way little votive candles can be placed on the ledge and light up the image of the One I love! Oh, now you have me wanting a kneeler. But they’re so expensive… and what a shame they’re so expensive, because they look easy to make. Hmmm… well, that’s okay… I know of a Good Carpenter :wink: Who I can pray to that can help me find an inexpensive one.

Your post is inspiring!


Let me introduce you to the long, picture-filled Home Altars Thread


of course we use “home altar” as shorthand for a prayer corner or shrine, since of course the sacrifice is not offered here. do spend time on the old thread above some are just lovely.

my only advice: include only what directly inspires and aids you in prayer, and that less is more. Don’t overburden your space with pictures, statues, candles etc. because the will become a distraction rather than an aid to prayer. This space should above all be a retreat, and everything in it planned to set it apart from the rest of the house in mood and feel. So don’t bring your crossword puzzle book or electronic game. You can have a CD player, unless music distracts you in prayer, but do remember there are times for silence, music is not always appropriate. Don’t have 100 CDs there, just a small selection, fewer than 10 say, that are most conducive to prayer for you (that is very personal).

Same with images, only what works for you at this time. Aside from a crucifix, possible some image or statue of Mary, I strongly advise only one other icon or statue at a time. You may have others, but only one at a time in the most prominence, that which at this point in time is most affecting for you. Even the best ones can get “old”.

Just as in lectio divina you stay with one scripture passage only as long as it speaks directly to you, then move on to prayer and contemplation. The next time you choose another passage. The same with the images and icons.

Look for what you can leave out, not what you can add.

also with incense, candles etc. observe fire safety rules (duh) and if you are allergic or have asthma, they can be the worst offenders so choose wisely.

same with books, less is more. Other than your bible, missal or LOTH or other prayerbook you like, perhaps daily devotional or magazine based on daily Mass readings or the like, have only one spiritual book, the one you are into at this time. Ideally that should be one suggested by your spiritual director or someone else who has a positive influence on you, and you stay with it, as long as it takes, until you finish, before starting a new book. Shelves full of books I am going to get to someday are a distraction.


I have a home alter as well. It was the best choice in helping me to keep up with my personal devotions. I have two candles, pictures of the hearts (Sacred and Immaculate) front and center, crucifix, statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, rosary, and a picture of St. Teresa of Avila (actually this section is under construction, more to add as my journey goes along.) I aslo have a joining part that I use just for novena celebrations only. True to the popular saying, I am a starving student so I have taken two empty Huggies boxes and folded in all the sides, stacked them on top of each other, and made myself bookshelves for my religious books. Actually the surface of the top of them is what I use for my novena celebrations. I covered it with one of my beautiful dupattas from a salwar kameeze set. I switch out according to the novena, which in itself is a devotional practice :o I love making the surface area for my novena celebrations beautiful. I am a girly gurl, so it is truly an offering from myself to the said novena.

Have fun and put your love for Them into it, and enjoy the time you spend with Them.



Welcome Goodwell,
There is an established thread where others have posted their home shrines and altars:

Hope this helps.



They are right… less is more…

I would include Holy Water in there… rosary beads as well.

My family also has the bible, daily readings and novenas near the altar.

AND I would get the images and statues blessed by a priest.


You can also use incense.
This is very cheap.


I have about three places in the house where I like to pray so there are several concentrations of religious material. In the main area where I pray the morning prayers… on three shelves I have most of the material mentioned above but also some Lourdes holy water and two small books of daily saints (in Dutch and Italian because they were the only ones I could get with pictures). Each day I turn the page of the books to display the saint of the day. I also have a small collection of relics there. The crucifix is the main focus though.

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