The opinion on body art is divided within the Catholic faith; although there are statements against tattooing in the bible, many feel that so long as the imagery is not offensive, or against the beliefs set forth by the church, that body art is fine. Catholic tattoos are not, however, meant in any way to be offensive. Rather, they are meant to express a lasting devotion to the wearer’s faith.
Many Catholic tattoos feature the vast and colorful symbols that this faith is known for. Two of the most recognizable symbols are the crucifix and the sacred heart. The crucifix is often depicted in muted tones, and done in a realistic style. The sacred heart, on the other hand, is usually bold in color and either placed on its own, or at the chest of Jesus Christ. Some people may like to create a string of rosary beads around their neck or arm. One of the bolder ideas for Catholic tattoos is that of stained glass. Classic Catholic churches are widely known for their stunning statuary and windows. A unique idea would be to create an intricately placed and colored pattern that comes together to create the design of the Virgin Mary, or even a saint.
Crosses are also a regularly featured design in Catholic tattoos. Although the recognizable Latin cross is still the favored style, there are many other crosses that are used regularly by the Catholic Church, such as the Byzantine cross. This design, much like the Latin cross, has the appearance of a lowercase t; however, it features a second cross bar to bear the INRI inscription (or, “Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm” which stands for “Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum”), and a third bar to represent the Lord’s feet at rest. St. Brigid’s cross has a woven appearance and shows a small square at the center of four alternately placed arms. This design may express both devoutness, and a desire to save and comfort those in need.
Although many people are divided on the virtues of Catholic tattoos, it is undeniable that these designs often show a profound devotion that can be both beautiful and touching.