Webster’s dictionary defines columbarium as a building with recesses for urns containing the ashes of cremated people. Columbaria can be described as mausoleums for cremains, with each cubicle being called a niche instead of a crypt.
Columbaria is the plural of the Latin word columbarium, which was originally the name for a dwelling place for doves. During the Roman persecutions, early Christians fled to the catacombs to meet and worship. After a time, special places for burial use were set aside and blessed. Such burial chambers were called Columbarium.
The name columbarium comes from the resemblance between the burial chambers and the boxes for domesticated doves.