As of 2017, Christianity is still the biggest religion in the world. There are billions of people who believe in God as our creator, Jesus Christ as our savior, and Virgin Mary as the mother of God. Add to that hundreds of saints and martyrs who have died to keep Christianity living. It’s no surprise that Christian tattoos are also gaining popularity.
Christians have various rules to follow. This is why a lot of Christian people tend to be more demure and modest. But thankfully, more of them are getting more open-minded, especially with tattoos. Some still believe it as negative and see that it shouldn’t be a practice done by a religious Christian. However, many see it as a great way to show and be proud of their belief.
History of Christian Tattoos
- 1 History of Christian Tattoos
- 2 Types of Christian Tattoos
- 3 Popular Christian Tattoo Designs and Meanings
Christian tattoos aren’t really the biggest thing, although billions of people share the same belief. This may be because many Christians believe that tattoos are not a part of the religion.
However, if we are to go back to the most probable oldest Christian tattoo, it would be the cross. This is the biggest symbol in the religion – symbolizing Jesus Christ and his ultimate sacrifice. Nonetheless, there came a time when believing in God and Jesus Christ ended in jail or death. During those dark days, people would hide the cross, whether in symbolism or in tattoos, in the form of an anchor.
Apart from the Latin cross, there are also other types of cross that have been used over the years. Most common are the Maltese cross, Celtic cross and the Crusader’s cross.
As time went by and tattoos became more mainstream, the designs for Christian tattoos also became more creative and meaningful. Today, you can see a lot of designs that are seen as religious and worn by people with great faith.
While many still believe that tattoos are bad and should never be done, some still believe that it’s only a way of expressing themselves.
Types of Christian Tattoos
All Christian tattoos are symbolic and meaningful – especially to the wearer. However, the common denominator between these tattoos is the notion they represent. Most religious people find ways to commit to their religion. Others do it with their actions, others with their words, and others with art – one form is tattoos.
Today, we’re talking about the types of Christian tattoos you can find. We’ve categorized them with symbols, quotes, popular images, angels, and unique designs.
This one is pretty easy to understand. Symbols are basically simpler tattoos and common imagery with a deeper meaning. Most of the time, these tattoo designs are minimalist.
The biggest symbol of Christianity, as previously mentioned, is the cross. It means faith and the ultimate sacrifice. In some ways, it is also attributed to love and forgiveness – seeing that God gave his son because of his love for mankind. It was also a way to purify the world of its sins.
Another common symbol in Christianity is the angel wing. For some, angels are nothing but mythical creatures. However, Christians believe that angels are divine beings. They are the soldiers of heaven against evil and demons. They’re also tasked to guard and guide every human being in the world. But some use angel wings as a sign and dedication to a loved one who passed away. This coincides with the notion that they’ve gone to heaven and became angels themselves.
If you’re not as devout, you probably wouldn’t see the heart as a big Christian symbol. But a heart with a thorn crown on it with fire surrounding it is a symbol of Jesus Christ. This is known as the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Others use the same concept, only with a flower crown to symbolize the heart of Virgin Mary.
The rosary is for those who are devoted followers of the Virgin Mary. It can be a simple tattoo design, usually created as a bracelet or anklet design.
Quotes are a staple in the tattoo industry. It’s very versatile and can go from thought-provoking to inspirational to religious. For Christian quote tattoos, the majority of these are from the Bible. A great number of Christians have read the Bible and probably has one or two lines that they can never forget. Most times, it has become their mantras to fight off the stress in lives.
Bible quotes could either be the entire passages or the chapters and verses.
The passages are the actual lines you’ll see in the Bible. It could be word for word or just a fragment of it, since some passages are long. You can choose the parts you like and have it inked.
However, some like a more minimalist look and something they can put to certain places that won’t work for long quotes. For this, they just have the chapter and the verse tattooed. For example, it could be Psalm 23:4 instead of the whole quote.
Famous images are the usual types of Christian tattoos you’ll see. It can either be based or inspired by a famous painting or sculpture. Or it could be a re-enactment of a scene from the Bible. Some are just the typical things that Christians do re-imagined with ink on skin.
The Last Supper would be one of the most famous Christian paintings of all time. This controversial Da Vinci piece shows Jesus and his 12 disciples having their last supper together before Jesus was crucified. This is rather a big piece for a tattoo but some recreate the painting to suit their preference. Others create a big and realistic design on their back or their chest. Some others create a more traditional black ink tattoo. Others prefer a more simpler approach.
Christ the Redeemer is not just a world famous sculpture in Rio de Janeiro. It’s also a piece that is often recreated in tattoo.
However, the most famous imagery for Christian tattoos would be the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It shows him on the Christ, nailed on his arms and feet with a crown of thorns on his head. This has become the ultimate imagery of the Christian world and shows the greatest sacrifice of all.
The praying hands is also a rather famous tattoo imagery for Christians. It merely shows hands brought together, usually with a rosary. The background often includes the clouds and a “ray” of light or something like a halo. The act of praying is the way of believers to talk to God for guidance.
Unique designs are the ones that you don’t really see everyday. They could be a combination of other types of tattoos such as symbols and famous imagery. These designs are usually more modern and abstract. They can have a darker undertone or a more positive vibe.
Apart from being modern, these designs are also created with a combination of techniques to bring out a complicated tattoo design. These can be in 3D or hyper-realistic designs. Some are even surrealistic – something like out of a dream.
These designs are usually personal creations of tattoo artists or the wearers themselves. So the meaning is also something they can only tell. When it comes to unique designs, your imagination is the limit.
Popular Christian Tattoo Designs and Meanings
With the elements and the types of Christian tattoos we’ve introduced above, you can create as many designs as you want. All you need is a greater imagination and sometimes, just that intuition that a certain design is for you.
Here are some of the popular designs that could inspire your next ink:
The crucifixion scene
As said, this is one of the most famous scenes in the Bible and the entire Christian belief system. It was when Jesus Christ was crucified in the cross where he ultimately died for our sins.
The crucifixion scene can be as straightforward as Jesus hanging on the cross. However, some want a more complicated design. You can do this by adding other elements such as angels and the heaven opening up from a great storm. Some add the believers who stayed with Christ during the hours he was on the cross.
Most of the time, tattoo enthusiasts want this kind of design to be more traditional. Designs and the technique are often inspired by Renaissance paintings.
Apart from the Virgin Mary and the Holy Trinity, angels are the biggest beings in the belief system. Angels are these winged divine beings. There are the adult ones, known as the soldiers that fight evil and demons. And then there are the young ones, known as cherubs, who are often known as the guardian angels. Perhaps the most recognizable cherub is Cupid – with his bow and arrow of hearts.
Angels can be as cutesy as you want or as terrifying and proud as soldiers can be. Most of the time, angel tattoos are done with a picture of a person and then given a pair of wings and a halo. For enthusiasts, they usually use the images of their loved ones who passed away. As tattoos, they represent protection, guidance, and as a way of honoring the dead. By doing a design like this, it’s like saying that your loved one is now your angel and your protector from heaven.
Rosary and roses
The word rosary came from roses, and so it is fairly normal to have an image of a rose with a rosary. This imagery is attributed to the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. As what Christians believe, a prayer that goes through Mary is sure to come true. They honor her for bringing the savior into the world.
The roses, on the other hand, signify love. In a way, a tattoo design that includes both could define loving your religion and talking to God through prayers.
Portrait of Jesus Christ
The portrait of Jesus Christ is a great tattoo design. Of course, we can’t be entirely sure that the paintings of Christ we see is the real face of Christ. It just blew when Renaissance painters began picturing him as what we often see now.
Portraits of Christ are different. It could be from when he was suffering that led to his crucifixion. Others wanted to portray him as he was before that time. But a great number of Christians use his image after death – on the third day when he rose again. This is known as the Resurrection. It portrays him with a halo and glowing light. Sometimes, they also include his sacred heart.
The Virgin Mary and baby Jesus
The Virgin Mary is also a great and common piece for tattoos. However, designs with her also include a baby Jesus in her arms. The scenes could vary but it’s mostly just them enjoying each other’s company. They have halos around their head which is a sign of them being divine.
This kind of design could represent a mother’s love for her child. No matter if it’s a religious piece, this is one of the best designs to show motherly love.
Gates of heaven
The ultimate goal for every Christian is to be able to enter the gates of heaven when they die. It promises an eternal life filled with happiness and love. But to be able to do that, you’ll have to live following the rules of Christianity and humanity. Be good and do good.
As a design, the gates of heaven is usually this gate in the middle of the clouds. You can make it seem like it’s glowing and divine. Then adding a few dove birds would complete the look. Some like to go a little bit more and add the welcoming hands of God.
Archangels fighting evil
This could be on the category of angels, but archangels are on a different level. Suffice to say, they are the leading soldiers and are often the greatest warriors of God. Usually, archangels or Michael in particular is depicted with a sword and a shield slaying a serpent which represents evil.