A #ShrineStory Worth a Thousand Words

You often hear how a picture is worth a thousand words, and a Nittany Lion Shrine picture is no exception. The quintessential spot for a Happy Valley photo, a perfect place to reunite with old friends and a precious backdrop to share the spirit of Penn State with family—every Penn Stater has a shrine story that they hold dear to their heart.

For hints of nostalgia and a ton of Penn State pride, read on to learn about your fellow Penn Staters' stories at the shrine. Maybe you will even get some inspiration for your next photo at with the Lion!

Like so many others, this is just one of countless photos Alexandra Stine has at the shrine. Her shrine photos remind her of her time as a Penn State athlete, saying, “Prior to every varsity gymnastics meet, our team met here to get focused and pumped! This tradition is one I cherish, and it makes me smile as I think of all of the alum that I'm sure experience the exact same thing.”

Alexandra Stine

Dave Henkel recalls sharing this landmark with his family. He brought his children to sit on the shrine and later, brought his grandchildren, too. The Lion is a part of their family legacy, and Henkel calls the Lion a “symbol of this great university.”

The Lion Shrine also has a way of bringing people together—even if some aren’t wearing blue and white. When asked what his favorite shrine memory was, Shawn Collins answered, “My son Ethan Collins and me asking a couple of Wisconsin fans to take our picture. It was the last game of the season, and cold!”

Jason Beddia and family

For Jason Beddia (pictured left), a family trip to the Lion Shrine is a yearly tradition. “Every year, for my birthday, my wife and I take our son to the lion Shrine and we have someone there take a picture of the three of us at the lion shrine,” says Beddia. “Then we go into town and I buy a new hat and we end every trip with a visit to the creamery. The trip isn't complete without a picture of the three of us at the Lion Shrine.”

“I remember the first time I was able to climb on top of the shrine all by myself. I was sooo proud of myself,” recalled Chris Pancerella Gayman. Did you grow up visiting the shrine? Finally being old enough to mount the Lion’s back is always something to be proud of!

Shelia Kaelin remembers gathering her family at the shrine each year when her daughter was enrolled at Penn State. “Every year my daughter attended State College, we went to the shrine for a family pic!! Love Penn State!!”

Are you a Penn State legacy? Chances are most members of your family have pictures of their own at the Lion Shrine.

That’s the case for Peggy Montella, who comes from four generations of Penn Staters. “It is literally the only physical place that I know four generations of my family have been photographed at,” she said. She has photos from her sophomore year of college, graduate school, her alumnus husband and her Penn State child, all with big smiles standing next to the Lion. And which one of her most cherished? The one of her father posing at the shrine in the 1950s, seen above.

“My father was not the type of guy to enjoy getting his picture taken, so it brought a smile to my own face to see him as a young man posing for the camera at the Lion. The Lion, like Penn State itself, will forever be part of me. When I touch the Lion, I feel connected to not just my own youth, but to family members who are no longer here [who] I know once stood exactly where I am standing,” said Montella.

Peggy Montella's father in the 1950's

Hold on to the memories you’ve already created at the Lion Shrine. Your shrine stories are what make this place a special landmark at Penn State.

Didn’t get to share your favorite photo? Post your picture and tell us your story using #ShrineStory, and don’t forget to tag @HappyValleyPSU. We would love to hear your memories!

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