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Holy Ground

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"I do not wish to stain this sacred place with your blood. If you are determined to have this confrontation, why don't we settle this outside?"
Prince Maximilian von Regingrave, Valkyria Chronicles

A place that has religious significance. It could be the site of a church or temple, a graveyard, a Holy City, or any other place. There are rules you must follow, taboos you must not break, or the locals will object, if not the one that place was dedicated to. After all, Holy Is Not Safe.

If someone is Seeking Sanctuary, this is the place they'll go. If this place actively repels or harms evil forces, then it is a Place of Protection because Holy Burns Evil.

Sister Trope to Truce Zone. Indian Burial Ground is a subtrope. The inversion is Unholy Ground.


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    Comic Books 
  • Hellblazer:
    • Played With in one arc. John makes a deal with a bunch of demons to get a little girl's soul back. The summoning takes place in an old church, so they're trapped in the circle. Which is when John brings in the other party to the deal, an Aztec death god who, having been around for longer than Christianity, has no problem with the holy nature of the church, and starts eating the demons.
    • He also once sets up an ambush by waiting for chasing demons to reveal that they're standing on the grounds of an old church that was later turned into an insane asylum.

    Fan Works 
  • The real-life Cathédrale Notre Dame de l'Assomption in Clermont-Ferrand France is where the plot of Angel of the Bat III: Da Pacem Domine kicks off, and its status as holy ground plays several major roles. John Constantine and Abraham Arlington seek shelter inside to escape a demon that was pursuing them, and John notes that neither his magic nor that of a possible fae he engages in a fight with work within. Arlington, on the other hand, wields powers based on faith, and thus is unaffected by the church's power.

    Film - Animated 
  • The Notre-Dame Cathedral in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney) is, as a church, basically the holiest spot in Paris. This is especially enforced by the Archdeacon, and especially in response to Frollo's increasing insanity and acts of sacrilege, such as trying to drag Esmeralda away despite having sanctuary or launching an all-out assault against the cathedral.
    Archdeacon: (to Esmeralda) Don't worry, child. Minister Frollo learned years ago (shoots a Death Glare at Frollo) to respect the sanctity of the church.

    Archdeacon: (during Frollo's attack) Frollo! Have you gone mad?! I will not tolerate this assault on the house of God!

    Film - Live Action 
  • In the film Alice's Restaurant (and the Real Life situation which inspired it) Alice's restaurant is in a former church, and it has to be deconsecrated before Alice can set up shop.
  • The Car: Lauren and a group of children are saved from the demonically possessed car when they run to a cemetery.
  • The immortals of Highlander have a rule against fighting on holy ground. Even the Kurgan respects it - by Highlander II even alien overlords respect it. It doesn't seem to matter which religion it's holy to, which raises odd questions: suppose a religion considers the entire world holy?
  • In Hocus Pocus the witches may not touch hallowed ground, most notably including graveyards, lest they turn to stone. However, nothing stops them from flying just above the ground on broomsticks and snatching their prey.
  • In Left for Dead, the remains of the church are the only place in the Ghost Town of Amnesty that the demonic ghost of Mobius Lockhart cannot go.
  • Maverick. Invoked by Brett Maverick when a bunch of Indians show up. Maverick communicates to them in their own language but makes it sound like they're angry because his party trespassed on sacred ground. He makes up the Indian Bravery Test as an excuse to go with them, which you pass by not making a sound as both your hands are chopped off.
  • In Sleepy Hollow (1999) the Headless Horseman cannot cross the fence into the church. When he tries throwing a weapon, it lands on the ground and dissolves. He needs more creative means of getting his victim.
  • According to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the Jedi Temple on Atch-To is on sacred ground. He says so in response to R2-D2 beeping something that's meant to be profane.
    "Hey, sacred island. Watch the language."
  • In Warlock (1989), the eponymous villain is burned by contact with consecrated ground.

  • In Around the World in Eighty Days, Passepartout gets in trouble for wearing shoes into a Hindu temple.
  • The Cave, found in The Belgariad, wherein the Gods resided while they were making the world. While in the Cave, Garion is able to resurrect a stillborn colt.
  • The Bible: Book of Exodus:
    • Moses sees a burning bush, which tells him to remove his shoes because he is standing on Holy Ground.
    • Prior to the attack on Jericho, Joshua is visited by the Captain of the Lord's Host and told to remove his shoes because he is standing on holy ground.
  • This comes up from time to time in the Deryni works. A selection:
    • In Deryni Rising, Morgan and Kelson remove their swords in the small chapel adjoining Duncan's study. "The tradition of coming into the House of God unarmed was an old and strong one."
    • When Charissa literally throws down a gauntlet to interrupt Kelson's coronation in St. George's Cathedral, Kelson asks her, "What would you in the House of the Lord?"
    • Morgan and Duncan are excommunicated after the events at St. Torin's shrine near Dhassa. Specifically, they are charged with killing men on sacred ground and profaning the place by using Deryni magic there, as well as getting the blame for starting the fire that burned the wooden structure to the ground. Never mind that the place was used to set a trap for Morgan in the first place...
  • In The Dresden Files, the church of Saint Mary of the Angels is one of the few remaining true holy grounds in the world, meaning that it is mostly impervious to all dark magic and anti-human supernatural forces. Except Fallen Angels and their hosts: they can enter, but really don't like to, because it lets them sense the presence of God and reminds them horribly that they could still repent.
  • In The Hollows, Rachel and her pixie and vampire roommates live in a church that is on holy ground. It has twice been blasphemed by the presence of an extremely powerful demon and needed a priest to come re-consecrate it.
  • From The Malloreon, there is a place called Korim, where Torak argued with UL. It is described as one of the holiest places on earth.
  • Quest for the Fallen Star has the Holy Land, where hatred cannot exist and wounds are minor irritants easily brushed away.
  • From The Tamuli, there is a concern that an Elene-style church has been consecrated (it hasn't).
  • In Warrior Cats, the Moonstone, and later, Moonpool, are sacred places for the cats to communicate with their ancestors. New leaders are given nine lives there, each new warrior must make the trip there once, and that's where the medicine cats receive omens twice a moon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Angel Wolfram & Hart's people found the best place to build their first building was going to be on holy ground. They had to turn it into Unholy Ground by desecrating it with the blood of a serial killer.
  • Doctor Who: Played With in "Father's Day". The Clock Roaches can't get into a church, not directly because it's holy, but because its status as a holy structure has kept it in place for a very long time and therefore it's exceptionally "solid" to them.
  • Game of Thrones. In "A Golden Crown", Daenerys and her brother Viserys travel with the Dothraki to Vaes Dothrak, their holy city in which it is forbidden to draw swords or shed blood. Having no respect for the Dothraki ways, Viserys exploits the fact that they will not violate their own rules, drawing a sword and making demands. It doesn't save him. They simply break his arms and kill him by pouring molten gold on his head. They never drew a sword nor shed any of his blood.
  • Good Omens (2019): During World War II, Noble Demon Crowley is forced to enter a church to save the angel Aziraphale from a Nazi trap. Crowley spends the scene hopping around and unable to stand still because Holy Burns Evil. He compares it to standing barefoot on a hot beach.
  • One of the few rules of the Game in Highlander is that Immortals cannot fight on holy ground. What will happen if they violate this rule is left vague. In any case, it does lead to holy ground being one of the few places that they can go to get away from the Game.
    • An explanation seems to come in "Little Tin God" when Joe mentions that according to Watcher legend, there's only been one recorded instance of two Immortals dueling on holy ground. Specifically, a temple in Southern Italy.
      Duncan: And?
      Joe: It was in Pompeii. 79 AD.
      Duncan: The volcano...
    • The rule only prevents Immortals from fighting. Regular humans can still kill them there, as Darius found out first-hand.
  • Stargate SG-1: In "Maternal Instinct" when the team and Bray'tac find Kheb, Daniel suggests they don't enter with weapons and Bray'tac agrees as they are on sacred ground.
  • Supernatural:
    • "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part Two": 5 pioneer churches are used in the Geometric Magic to make a county-wide Devil's Trap, preventing demons from escaping the Hellgate hidden in the center.
    • "Route 666": Sam and Dean dispose of a ghostly truck by tricking it into driving full-tilt into an old churchyard. The building is long gone, but the ghost "crashes" on the threshold of the consecrated ground.

  • Subverted by the Irish folk song "The Holy Ground". It's a song about how travel weary sailors are looking to return to the Holy Ground. At the time the song first appeared, that was the name of the Red Light District in the town of Cobh in County Cork.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Ars Magica, Holy Ground is one of four types of Aura that can develop in an area, and it weakens creatures of Evil and interferes with magic. Village churches and the like acquire a low-level holy aura, while the most powerful ones can create an Eldritch Location where people can cross into successive "layers" of the holy site, each version becoming more unearthly and more saturated with holy power.
  • Played With in Demon: The Fallen. The Fallen (a.k.a. demons) can walk upon holy ground (such as old churches)—but only if their Torment is low. Otherwise, stepping onto a holy ground kills their host bodies quickly and efficiently.
  • Dungeons & Dragons have a number of spells for creating holy or unholy ground, such as Hallow. Generally, these give Field Power Bonuses to any creatures that share the ground's alignment.
  • Holy Terra, Shrine Worlds, and some Space Marine recruitment worlds in Warhammer 40,000 are entire planets devoted to this trope.
  • Princess: The Hopeful has Blessed Places. Any place where acts of true goodness and beauty were performed can become invested with the Light, with the section quote referring to the landing site of Apollo 11. Within a Blessed place, those with good intentions are strengthened, and those who spend a long time in one find it easier to gain Integrity.

    Video Games 
  • Falcon's Ache in Arcanum is sacred to the elves, and anyone who sheds blood on the ground will have their life taken by the spirits that live there. This becomes important in a quest when you have to drive away some lumberjacks that want to claim the site as a timber yard; you can't hurt them, but you can goad them into attacking you and let the spirits kill them, so long as you don't fight back.
  • Destiny 2: Io, one of Jupiter's moons, is considered this by some Guardians, particularly Warlocks like Ikora. It was the last place the Traveler terra-formed before the Darkness attacked, and it's still rife with the Traveler's energy due to the job only being halfway done.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, Giants have sites set aside strictly as the final resting place for their dead. They typically do not live near these locations and do not guard them. Giants who feel that they are nearing the end of their lives will travel to these sites to die. If a Giant dies elsewhere, other Giants will carry his body to one of these sites.
  • In Final Fantasy X, the ruins of Zanarkand are considered holy ground by the Yevon clergy. It serves as the end of a summoner's pilgrimage to acquire the Final Summoning with which to defeat Sin. Turns out the city's leader, Yu Yevon, was the one who MADE Sin in the first place.
  • In the first Mass Effect, Wrex tells Shepard of how his father, Jarrod, called him to a Crush, a meeting between rival Krogan clans, at the Hollows, as close to sacred ground as Krogans get. Weapons and fighting are not allowed. He knows that it is a trap yet Wrex hopes that it won't end in bloodshed and there would be an actual negotiations involved. Sadly, it ended up being a trap and Wrex was forced to kill his father. This results in Wrex becoming severely disillusioned with his own people, so he leaves Tuchanka and spends the next several centuries wandering the galaxy as a mercenary until his journey with Shepard in the first game snaps him out of his funk. In-between the first and the second game, he returns to Tuchanka and enacts his reforms to save his people for the second time.
  • Averted in the Reincarnation (2008) games. One takes place in a church, and the demon tells you that there's no problem being in a church, he just doesn't like it. Then again, you are chasing a Pedophile Priest...
  • In Stellaris, so-called Gaia worlds are planets that are so accommodating to life-forms that any race in the galaxy can settle them without difficulty, regardless of what climates they're accustomed to. This means you'll want to snap them up as soon as you find them, but if such worlds happen to have a name already, you may want to reconsider - these are a religious Fallen Empire's sacred planets, and ignoring their warnings and settling such worlds will earn their ire. Destroying them with a planet-cracker will make the Holy Guardians instantly Awaken and teach you just how big a mistake you've made. Or, if you're a religious civilization yourself, you can sanctify any unsettled Gaia Worlds in your space for a permanent boost to your Unity output.
  • Meta-example in Urban Dead. There's a longstanding agreement between the human and zombie players that cemeteries are considered sacred ground, that survivors will regularly try to revive zombies there, and zombies are expected to not perform any hostilities.
  • Done in Valkyria Chronicles as Prince Maximilian von Regingrave didn't want to kill off Gallian militiamen present in the ruins of a Valkyrian temple, which is considered to be holy grounds.
  • World of Warcraft: the Scourge apparently lost the Battle of Light's Hope Chapel because they fought on sacred ground. To clarify, the Sacred Light is a magical sentient force that is the Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors of the Undead. To wield it, the user must harbor absolute faith in its sacredness and purity.

    Visual Novel 
  • In the Fate series, the church in Fuyuki City is considered this, being used as a neutral site for Masters to meet.
  • Ciel, an agent of The Church in Tsukihime, is able to consecrate certain areas, turning them into Hallowed Grounds. She does it, for instance, at her home, allowing Shiki to easily fend off Demonic Possession while he stays there.

    Web Original 
  • On the Dream SMP, the Holy Land, also known as the Suburbs of Prime (or The Subs for short), is a district on the server considered "holy". Killing and the usage of weapons and armor are not allowed within the borders of the district, which are visibly marked out by smooth stone. As a result of the no-violence policy of the Holy Land, it doubles as a Truce Zone by various server members in conflict with each other, and the independence of El Rapids was also negotiated in the district.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10: In the episode "Benwolf", Gwen and Kai need to search a sacred grove for a specific cactus that they believe will help cure Ben's supposed Lycanthropy (it won't). Kai explains to Gwen that this grove is where the spirits of her people go after death It's implied that the spirits are real after Gwen sarcastically invokes them for help in finding the cactus, which she then finds after accidentally sitting on it.
    Kai: I guess the spirits work in strange ways.
  • Subverted and justified in Castlevania (2017). God is so disgusted by the corrupt church that he has withdrawn his protection of the church, leaving the bishop to be killed by a demon.
  • In a Highlander parody on Robot Chicken, Lindsay Lohan and Hillary Duff have to call off their fight when Hillary mentions that The GAP is holy ground. They later attack each other elsewhere.
  • The Venture Bros. While there are many Sacred Locations due to the various cults and practices within the setting, The Guild of Calamitous Intent has rules in-place against Arching their nemeses on "Hallowed Ground": usually consisting of Roman Catholic locations like Churches or Catholic Hospitals.

    Real Life 
  • In the Hindu religion, the goddess Ganga is the personification of the Ganges river, thus rendering the river as Holy Ground (or water body). Ganga is the deity of forgiveness and purification, so the Hindus bathe in its waters to pay homages to their ancestors and gods.
  • In the Shinto religion, both the temple complex and the area surrounding it (signified with the iconic red Tori gates) is Holy Ground. This is landmarked by various items such as ropes and paper. The idea is that the area beyond the temple's reach is in some measure corrupted and thus a division has to be made. But this also works in reverse, so if the temple gets corrupted and it becomes Unholy Ground, the same barrier protections will seal the evil inside so it does not influence the outside world.
  • For Christianity, churches and the Jordan River are all sacred places. Churches because that's where the Mass among other rituals (Baptism, the Confirmation, etc.) regularly takes place, and the Jordan River because the descendants of Abraham (chosen by God) crossed it to reach the Promised Lands and, several decades after, the messiah Jesus was baptized there.
    • Vatican City for Catholics because it's where The Pope and the highest-ranking Catholic officers reside.
    • Often, graveyards are also included by virtue of being where the dead rest. It has to be noted, however, that for a graveyard to be Holy Ground, the people there must have been buried following the Christian traditions. Interestingly, graveyards are the most referenced sacred soil in Western media.
  • In Islam, this applies to parts of Medina and Mecca where non-Muslims are not permitted.
  • The Biblical custom of removing one's shoes when standing in Holy Ground has faded and is now only practiced by Muslims. This is explained by the fact Islam is one of the three Abrahamic religions alongside Christianism and Judaism.

Alternative Title(s): Hallowed Ground