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Shrine is also used as a conventional translation of the Japanese Jinja.
Eastern Orthodox shrine
Eastern Orthodox shrine
Buddhist shrine just outside Wat Phnom.
Buddhist shrine just outside Wat Phnom.

A shrine, from the Latin scrinium (‘box’, also used as a desk, like the french bureau hence also an administrative office) is originally a container, usually in precious materials, especially for a relic, and/or holy or sacred place containing the same, hence dedicated towards a certain god, goddess, saint, or similar religious figure. Later also extended meanings.

Religious shrines

As distinguished from a temple, a shrine is usually located because it houses a particular relic or cult image which is the object of worship or veneration, or because it is constructed on a site which is thought to be particularly holy, as opposed to being placed for the convenience of worshippers. As such, shrines are associated with the practice of pilgrimage. Christianity (Roman Catholicism and Orthodox, not protestants who oppose honoring saints), Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto and Islam (mainly Shiah) are major religions that have places of worship that are frequently called shrines, Qur'an prohibits shrines and the Intercession of saints:"And the mosques are for Allah (Alone): so invoke not anyone along with Allah" Sura Al-Jinn:18 (72:18)). The only major mosques according to Sunni Muslims are in the following order; 1- Masjid al Haram 2- Masjid al-Nabawi 3- Al-Aqsa Mosque (Temple Mount). A Buddhist shrine is sometimes called a stupa, requiring a symbolic architecture. In Shinto, small portable shrines are often carried in religious processions. In Islam, it is most common in the shiite tradition of venerating late religious leaders (as their is no hierarchical church, the bond is very personal, but often their is a 'successor', sometimes even a son, who maintains most followers) and/or martyrs (usually at their grave); thus the Persian word imamzadeh. There are also sunnite equivalents, as for many marabouts (ascetics).

  • The word is also used to designate a small altar in a home or place of business, or a room or item of furniture which is furnished with religious symbols and used for private worship, as was common in the pagan (polytheist) periods of Classical Antiquity. It is often devoted to some kind of 'patron saint' or almost private (e.g. ancestral or micro-scale place-bound) spirits etcetera.

In the Roman Catholic Code of Canon law, canons 1230, 1231: "The term shrine means a church or other sacred place which, with the approval of the local Ordinary, is by reason of special devotion frequented by the faithful as pilgrims. For a shrine to be described as national, the approval of the Episcopal Conference is necessary. For it to be described as international, the approval of the Holy See is required,"

Secular shrines

In the United States, several landmarks are called "historic shrines." High ranking Freemasons may join the Shriners, a benevolent and charitable organization.

By extension the term shrine has come to mean any place (or virtual cyber-place) dedicated completely to a particular person or subject.

Notable shrines

Roman Catholic


Japanese shinto temples — jinja and jingu— are conventionally called "shrines". See Category:Shinto shrines

U.S. historic shrines

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