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Tuesday 11 May |
Saint of the Day: St. Ignatius of Laconi

Daily Poll: Would you get a tattoo in Jerusalem?

Kris Krug - CC

The Daily Catch - published on 09/12/16

Daniel Esparza brought up the interesting and ancient tradition of Christian tattoos from Jerusalem. Apparently Christians visiting Jerusalem have been getting ink since the middle ages:

there is actually a Christian tradition of tattoos, which can be traced for over a thousand years back in the past. The first Christians to get tattooed were those born in the Holy Land (and also Egypt, as tattoos were also part of the Coptic tradition) in the 6th century, according to the testimony of Procopius of Gaza, perhaps one of the most important Christian Greek rhetoricians of the Second Sophistry. These pilgrims would get tattoos of the cross and Christ’s name, and took the practice to Egypt, where Coptic Christians soon adopted it as their own. Christians who made the pilgrimage to the Holy Land would also get tattooed, not only as a display of devotion, but also as proof of their having made the trip.

It surprised your contributor that Christians had a tradition of tattoos. My first job was in a rectory and I remember the older, somewhat cantankerous, priest explaining to a young parishioner that God gave us the body as a vessel for the soul and that we should return it to our maker the way we got it. This conversation in front of an impressionable 15-year-old pretty much explains why my skin is (currently) bare.

Had I known of this tradition from Jerusalem, my skin might be covered with Christian imagery at this point. How about you?

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