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  From  Webster's  Revised  Unabridged  Dictionary  (1913)  [web1913]: 
  Asylum  \A*sy"lum\,  n.;  pl  E.  {Asylums},  L.  {Asyla}.  [L.  asylum, 
  Gr  ?,  fr  ?  exempt  from  spoliation,  inviolable;  'a  priv.  +  ? 
  right  of  seizure.] 
  1.  A  sanctuary  or  place  of  refuge  and  protection,  where 
  criminals  and  debtors  found  shelter,  and  from  which  they 
  could  not  be  forcibly  taken  without  sacrilege. 
  So  sacred  was  the  church  to  some  that  it  had  the 
  right  of  an  asylum  or  sanctuary.  --Ayliffe. 
  Note:  The  name  was  anciently  given  to  temples,  altars, 
  statues  of  the  gods,  and  the  like  In  later  times 
  Christian  churches  were  regarded  as  asylums  in  the  same 
  2.  Any  place  of  retreat  and  security. 
  Earth  has  no  other  asylum  for  them  than  its  own  cold 
  bosom.  --Southey. 
  3.  An  institution  for  the  protection  or  relief  of  some  class 
  of  destitute,  unfortunate,  or  afflicted  persons;  as  an 
  asylum  for  the  aged,  for  the  blind,  or  for  the  insane;  a 
  lunatic  asylum;  an  orphan  asylum.