Many aediculae were household shrines that held small altars or statues of the Lares and Penates. The Lares were Roman deities protecting the house and the family household gods. The Penates were originally patron gods (really genii) of the storeroom, later becoming household gods guarding the entire house.
Other aediculae were small shrines within larger temples, usually set on a base, surmounted by a pediment and surrounded by columns. In Roman architecture the aedicula has this representative function in the society. They are installed in public buildings like the Triumphal arch, City gate, or Thermes. The Celsus Library in Ephesus (2. c. AD) is a good example.
Aediculae exist today in Roman cemeteries as a part of funeral architecture.