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Les tatouages religieux catholique
05-02-2024

Catholic religious tattoos

9 min read

Tattooing is booming around the world today. However, for a long time he was associated with less than acceptable circles (mafia, secret societies, witchcraft, etc.). Our society is looking at this theme and Christian religious people find it interesting to know if Christian faith and tattoos go well together. Is it possible to get a tattoo while being a Catholic Christian ? Although religion has not always accepted tattooing, it is more widespread these days! The Croix Précieuse team offers you a decryption on the subject.

Some numbers to illustrate the tattoo

As a social phenomenon, tattooing raises important existential questions. For a Catholic believer , the subject is all the more sensitive and concerns his relationship with God: is religious tattooing compatible with the Church and the Christian faith ?

To understand a situation, sometimes it is enough to have a few figures. Around 13.5 million French people are tattooed, or 20% of the population. Among 18/35 year olds, this percentage rises to 33%. All socio-professional categories and all ages are particularly affected by tattooing. In just 10 years, the national average of people with tattoos in France has increased by 8%.

Can you please God with tattoos?

Many people of God wonder if having tattoos betrays their faith. This is a controversial topic because it mostly depends on the religion and your interpretation of it. For centuries, tattoos have been connected to the religiosity and spirituality of early cultures . The very first tattoos depicted ancestors, totemic figures, spells or other religious symbols.

Polytheistic religions have kept these tattoos in their tradition. In monotheistic religions , on the other hand, these were considered pagan symbols, and therefore sinful.

1.Christianity and tattoos

References to tattoos from Old Testament books are due to its foundations in Hebrew tradition . However, the New Testament makes no mention of marks on the skin . In the Middle Ages, during the fall of the Western Roman Empire, tattoos were demonized because Christians associated them with pagan peoples.

Throughout the travels of the modern era, Christians will rediscover tattoos as fashionable elements among explorers, soldiers and sailors. They tattooed themselves in memory of the places they went, the experiences they had. It was only from the 20th century that criminals began to widely use tattoos. That’s when people saw them as something negative.

During the 1960s, the counterculture would take it up and various opinions would be created in the different denominations of Christianity. There is no clear consensus on tattoos within the Catholic Church. Some theologians and priests think it is okay as long as they do not depict figures related to the devil. Other lawyers see it as a fashionable item that cannot be a sin. Still others are opposed to tattoos.

The only consensus is that our body is a gift from God . In turn, you have to take care of it. If you have to get a tattoo, it must be done in the best hygienic conditions. To demonstrate their devotion, some Catholics , particularly those in the Philippines and Latin America, have tattoos of religious figures such as images of saints and Jesus Christ . Although they warn against tattoos depicting criminal symbols and demonic figures, the Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches have notably been less strict on tattoos.

The most diverse Christian denominations are certainly the Protestant and Reformed churches. Many liberal sectors do not make negative references to tattoos, while the most conservative are against them. Anglicans and Calvinists, including devout Anglicans like King George V of the United Kingdom and Winston Churchill, have a long tradition of tattoos dating back to the time when the Dutch and English explored the earth. For Mormons, tattooing is only a sin if it was done after conversion to the religion.

2. What does the Bible say about tattooing?

Apparently, the Bible says nothing about tattooing. However, we can refer to one of the verses taken from Leviticus 19:28 which says: “you shall not wear a tattoo”. In the general opinion of biblical scholars, this sacred text does not refer to your secular tattoos , but to religious tattoos.

Indeed, tattoos were associated with magical practices in the time of Leviticus . It is believed to originate from ancient Egypt and its pagan cults. To have children, for example, women had magical tattoos on their stomachs.

One thing is certain, if your tattoo is directly or indirectly associated with occult, magical or superstitious practices , it is difficult to see the Holy Bible allowing you to do so.

3. Everything was already written!

Here is a little historical reminder which demonstrates the conception of the Church which dates back to 787 during the Council of Northumberland . “In Northumberland, a small kingdom resulting from the Angles invasions, there was an assembly of theologians and bishops of the Catholic Church who would radically change the face of Christianity. This local council was in fact questioning the possibility for a Catholic Christian to have a tattoo.”

The conclusion of the said synod is very clear: “ when an individual undergoes the test of tattooing for the faith and love of God, he is highly praised . But like the pagans, he who undergoes tattooing for superstitious reasons will not benefit.

From this conclusion of the council, we will remember that it is very good if it is a Christian tattoo. But there's no point if it's a secular tattoo. We will emphasize here that this is neither bad nor good . Besides, this is not what will bring you closer to Jesus Christ and God. Morally, a tattoo is neutral . In short: it is allowed!

You will find other articles on this subject on Tattoo and religion .

Religious tattoos: the most special and beautiful ideas of all

Since the dawn of humanity, religion has influenced the way we act and think. There are more than 3,000 religions in the world today, with Christianity being the largest active religion. If each of them has its own values ​​and beliefs, the religious tattoo functions as a mark of faith . Below we offer you incredible religious tattoo ideas aimed at both female and male audiences.

As a discreet tribute, religious tattooing is often delicate and small. It doesn't necessarily need to be visible to everyone. This is not an absolute rule however. There is no problem if you prefer a rather bold and large tattoo. In this case, locations like the arm, back, legs and shoulders are usually ideal.

  1. Delicate or small

Religious tattooing is more linked to sentiment than aesthetics. A delicate or small tattoo can be hidden easily when necessary. It's not very flashy. To do this, the forearm and shoulder are the most stressed places on the body.

2. Writing with Sentences

The written tattoo contains a religious phrase. It is strongly linked to the emotional side . The most important thing with this style of tattoo is to get your message across. No need to adopt a completely innovative style or for it to be big. You can opt for words that strengthen your faith (for example: “ Let your faith be greater than your fears ”) or choose phrases taken directly from the Bible (“ The LORD is my shepherd ”).

3. On the arm

The arm is one of the best spaces for tattooing . From the most discreet to the largest, its versatility allows it to accommodate tattoos of all types, even those aimed at complete closure of this region. You can opt for more elaborate tattoos. Talk to your tattoo artist to come up with a design that makes the most of the available space.

The tattoo of the face of Jesus , the face of the Virgin Mary or the crown of Christ, for example, requires excellent realism. However, the result is always charming when the job is done well.

4. On your back

The back is a region of the body that lends itself perfectly to religious tattoos . The ideal for women will be to opt for discreet and simple designs, made close to the neck in the center of the back. The classic representation of the Virgin Mary, the crosses and the rosary are models that adapt very well to women's backs. Men will be able to give free rein to their imagination. They can occupy all this space, for example with the face of Christ. Everything is allowed !

5. Third

The third tattoo is connected to the Catholic faith. Its main meaning relates to protection and security against all the evils of the world . The possible motives here are diverse and varied. You can adapt it to any part of your body. Hands and feet, however, are women's favorite options for this type of tattoo. To give it more personality, you can add some small details to the third tattoo.

6. Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is the maximum symbol of the Christian faith. He is the son of God reincarnated in human form to reconcile humanity with God. Aside from its deep meaning, it should be noted that this tattoo requires extreme care , from design to execution. Indeed, tattooing the face of Jesus Christ requires a certain know-how that not all tattoo artists necessarily have. We therefore recommend that you contact an artist specializing in realism and shading to do this.

Furthermore, in addition to the realistic style, the traditional style is also a very good way to represent the Messiah or the Lamb of God .

The cross: the Christian religious tattoo par excellence!

When it comes to going under the needle, the cross tattoo remains a safe choice . It carries both strong symbolism and is simple to implement. It can be the basic model of all Catholic Christians .

  1. The origin of the tattoo with a cross

The cross tattoo is quite versatile. Associated with the Christian religion, it has always seduced all souls in search of spirituality. The cross is in fact a symbol found in the Catholic religion, but also in other cultures such as that of the ancient Egyptian civilization (one of the first to practice the art of tattooing).

They exist in various forms:

  • Flower cross on the forearm;
  • Cross and dove on the back;
  • Cross and rosary on the hand;
  • Cross and writing on the forearm;
  • Cross and lion on the calf;
  • Cross and hearts on the wrist;
  • Cross and circle on the wrists;
  • Blue cross on the ankle;
  • Cross and tree on the back;
  • Multicolored cross on the arm;
  • Cross and lotus flower on the forearm;
  • Mini cross on the thumb;
  • Gothic cross on the arm;
  • Multiple crosses on the back;
  • Cross and roses on the ankle;
  • Cross of Hope behind the ear;
  • Cross and circles on the forearm;
  • Egyptian cross on the arm;
  • Cross in relief behind the arm;
  • Leafy cross on the side, etc.

There is no shortage of ideas.

2. What are the meanings of a cross tattoo?

You can get a cross tattoo simply to pay homage to Jesus Christ or to a deceased loved one who was a believer. Depending on the style of tattoo you like, you can also achieve it in different ways. Thus, we find cross tattoos in a Gothic or tribal style , in an "old-school" version like the traditional American tattoo with shadow play, bright colors and sometimes a banner in which to inscribe a message or a first name that is specific to us. Dear. They are also found in an ultra-worked realistic version, offering a trompe-l'oeil rendering. But you can always opt for much more refined models, with simple and very fine lines.

3. Different examples of tattoos with a cross

For your cross tattoo, you will have the choice between several shapes, each having a particular meaning. The Christian cross, especially when it is represented in the form of a rosary, around the wrist or ankle, will obviously remind you of your attachment to religion. A variation of the Christian cross will be offered to you by the Celtic cross , with the presence of a ring recalling the natural elements and the links between the mind and the body. The cross of life or Egyptian cross, also called ankh , symbolizes the link between the masculine and the feminine and the cyclical aspect of life.

Various patterns can be associated with your cross tattoo:

  • An anchor to display your perseverance in the face of adversity and show that your faith is strong;
  • A butterfly to remind you of reincarnation;
  • A dove to reinforce the religious side;
  • Angel wings to symbolize perfection and give you extra protection, etc.

Another option is to use, for example, the cross to write the " t " of the word " faith " or two words to form a cross. You are free to add flowers, in an old school version or on the contrary minimalist to make the tattoo more feminine. Whether it's the cross or any other Catholic Christian religious tattoo design, anything really goes. You just need to let your imagination run wild. Obviously, you will have to make sure not to go beyond the limits of religion and its principles (no secular symbols).

In summary, we will remember that religious tattooing is an original way of making one's faith evident . Today, requests for Christian symbols are on the rise. Sacred Heart, the Holy Cross, The Holy Crown, the face of the Virgin Mary, that of Christ the Redeemer... Everything is permitted ! Our skin thus becomes, faced with the disappearance of the Christian religion in the public space and secularization, a new place in which to affirm and inscribe one's faith . Have no more doubts, you have all the rights!


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