Can a Catholic Get a Tattoo? (And Pope’s Word on It)

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You may be wondering, can a Catholic get a tattoo?” As a staunch Catholic, you may feel it’s against the church’s doctrines to have one.

However, when it comes to the Catholic church’s opinion on tattoos, we can’t give a straightforward answer since there’s no strict teaching on tattoos.

To keep the young generation that loves tattoos in the church, the pope asked the people not to get afraid of tattoos, which indicates that Catholics can have tattoos if they want to.

Stick on as we learn more about the Catholic church and tattoos.

What Does the Catholic Church Say About Tattoos?

A Tattooed Man Sitting Beside the Priest Reading a Bible

The question of tattoos has become common with their increasing popularity. Some people associate the permanent marking on the body with morality and say it’s against the bible in Leviticus 19:28, which says Christians should keep off tattoos.

The Catholic church doesn’t address tattooing but the need to honor God in whatever you do to your body.

The Old Testament relates tattoos to pagan worship, closely related to worshiping graven images. However, the Catholic teaching insists that the Old Testament teaching shouldn’t keep people in bondage, and they should embrace the new covenant.

The mother church has nothing against tattoos, and people who find them attractive shouldn’t feel ashamed to have them. If you don’t love tattoos, don’t judge anyone with one wrongly.

Is Getting a Tattoo a Mortal Sin?

With the teachings from St. Paul in the New Testament, we shouldn’t be bound by ceremonial laws in the Old Testament, and having a tattoo isn’t a mortal sin, and if you believe having a tattoo is awesome, you can do it.

What Does the Pope Say About Tattoos?

Pope Francis Rome Religion Catholic Catholicism

Pope Francis is an open-minded person, and in 2018 he engaged with young people before attending the Synod of Bishop; when a Ukrainian seminarian asked him about tattoos, he said, “Don’t be afraid of tattoos,” he added that tattoos could identify you with a certain community.

With the encouragement and openness from the pope on body modifications, the young people in the church embrace their tattoos.

Do Saints Have Tattoos?

Tattoos weren’t dominant in the old times. We have no history of a saint having a tattoo on their body. The traditional Catholic church dwelt most on sacramentals that reminded them of their faith which has been carried forward in today’s church.

Can I Have a Saint Tattoo on My Body?

Yes. I have seen Catholics with a tattoo of their favorite Saint on their body and especially on the arm. It’s a way of honoring and revering the Saint. Catholics believe in intercession by saints, which is one reason for having the tattoo. 

Here are some famous saint tattoos you can get as a Catholic.

1. St Rita

I love this Saint and wouldn’t mind a temporary tattoo since I don’t love permanent ones. St Rita of Cascia is the patron Saint of heartbroken and impossible things, which has made Catholics engrave her tattoo and seek her guidance.

2. Mary Mother of God

Mentioning Mary, Mother of God, to a Catholic feels nice, and she is regarded as the Queen of all saints, and some people get tattoos of her to remember the humanity and the love she had for the church and humanity.

3. St Patrick

St Patrick is a very famous saint from Ireland, and his feast is celebrated all over the world. You can get a tattoo of St. Patrick to commemorate his good work spreading Christianity.

Can a Priest Have a Tattoo?

A Male Priest in Green Vestment

There is no rule in the Catholic church restricting priests from having tattoos, but it’s very hard to find a priest with a tattoo. Priests are role models to Christians, which could be one reason they don’t get tattoos. 

With the increasing popularity of tattoos, young priests may become more open and embrace the practice.

The Franciscan congregation was a promoter of tattoos as they took care of Holy Land. When people visited the land in the 16th century, they would take a walk to the pilgrim and get their skins engraved.

With the increased demand for engraving by visitors, the Franciscans allowed tattoo artists to set up shops for the artistry.

Why do Some Catholics Discourage Permanent Tattooing?

Not all Catholics love the idea of tattooing, and some are completely against it. They argue that the permanent marking interferes with God’s creation, and the process may expose you to complications.

They discourage some ugly and horrific images that can scare people. Horoscopic images contradict the Catholic faith and can be considered a sin.

Final Thoughts

Although tattooing isn’t forbidden in the Catholic faith, people vary in perception. With the pope’s openness to tattoos, most people will feel safe having tattoos in church.

Tattoos can act as a commemoration of various sacramentals and Saints in today’s world. Before getting a tattoo, remember you will have it for the rest of your life.

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Michael Blau

Michael Blau

I have been tattooing for over 15 years and have my studio in Brooklyn. While I'll tattoo just about anything on anyone, my specialty is religious tattoos.
I am originally from Williamsburg, a neighborhood in Brooklyn known for its large Jewish population. This has given me a lot of experience and understanding when it comes to tattoos and religion.

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