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The Shrine of All Faiths

Some time back, I wrote a post about shrines and created my own on-line shrine. In that post I mentioned my Former Flatmate (pre-cohabitation with Monsieur) and his in-house shrine. Last weekend, Monsieur and I trotted off to a party at my old abode and I took the opportunity of taking a couple of photos so I could better explain the concept behind it. Please note: this shrine embraces all religions and icons. End of.

Naturally, we see Christ and the Virgin Mary here in many different forms, along with their fellow celestial residents of angels and putti. St Clare of Assisi is there as patron saint of television, in the form of a small glow-in-the-dark figurine. There is ‘Hope on a Rope’ and a ‘Pope on a Rope’, both soaps for those of you who haven’t come across the more traditional ‘Soap on a Rope’. Christ guards the house keys (and might I say, he does a pretty good job of it) and there are Mexican Day of the Dead figures with their ghoulish skull heads. A little nun doll rescued from a charity shop wears the tiniest habit and veil I’ve ever seen, and Buddha sits cross-legged in the front. At the centre of the upper shelf stands a tiny Queen Mother dwarfed by the doll of Princess Diana in her famous silk wedding dress to the right. No, this shrine isn’t all about Christian icons and royalty…

We can also see Tibetan prayer flags, Hindu god posters and a Chinese New Year banner. A pair of furry wings adorns the solemn St Francis, and there’s a pack of Fuzzy Felt Bible Stories to play with in case you get bored. And if you ever find yourself needing a Magic 8 Ball, there’s an Answer Me Jesus doll: just ask Him a question, turn Him over and His answer will be displayed. Somewhere, there’s even a sacred cow money box.

I’ve only managed to touch on the wealth of spirituality that appears on this shrine. It’s truly inspirational and is a daily reminder to be tolerant of all faiths. Most of all, it makes people smile, even though the less spiritual side of it must be the religious souvenir manufacturers who are skipping all the way to the bank in the least spiritual of ways…

My on-line shrine

One of the things I miss most about living with my Former Flatmate is his shrine. On entering his flat, there is a large dresser covered with so many religious knick-knacks that it’s hard to tell exactly what colour it is. The shrine, as FF has named it, is not mono-theistic. In fact, most of the world’s religions (if not all) are represented in some way. Even celebrities who are venerated by FF have a presence. The only rule is that you cannot appear on the shrine unless you are dead or religious in a good way.

Counting among the various objects on the shrine are: a Lady of Lourdes holy water bottle in the shape of the Virgin Mary, a nun doll circa 1970 valiantly rescued by FF from a charity shop, pictures of Hindu gods with various skin colours (blue, green…), a Buddha sat happily on a pile of glass pebbles and a Pope-on-a-Rope soap from the John Paul II era. There’s a box of matches depicting a serene Christ, saying “Jesus is coming, look busy!”, a monk doll in miniature sackcloth habit but no indication of precisely who it’s meant to be, and a Princess Diana doll (yes, FF was a Di fan). Heath Ledger’s picture was placed on the shrine following his untimely demise and Kylie is represented, both in doll-form and in a Kylie and Jason postcard of some age. (She is the only living person to make it onto this dresser of sanctity, partly because FF worships her and partly because her fight against cancer makes her worthy.)

At home with Monsieur, I’m trying to get my own shrine started, but it’s not very well populated yet. There’s a Lady of Lourdes statuette next to a postcard that looks like Saint Bernadette or the Virgin Mary, depending on which way you hold it. The Archangel Michael is there in technicolour plaster, with his spear stuck into a demon at his feet. This one came from an ecclesiastical shop in Naples, where the owner insisted on wrapping the spear separately as he explained that the spear must be packed in the hold on our way back to England, lest it be confiscated from my carry on as a ‘dangerous weapon’. Well, it worked for St Michael when he slayed Satan…

Anyway, in homage to FF’s shrine, I’ve decided to create an on-line shrine, depicting deities and people who have had an influence on me. Here it is!



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