Throughout history people have used tattoos to identify their religious affiliation and to signal their devotion to their spiritual beliefs. During the Crusades of the Middle Ages, it was common practice among both members of the nobility and common foot soldiers to seek out a tattoo artist upon entering the Holy City of Jerusalem. The reason? To be tattooed with a cross. King Edward VII of England had a Jerusalem Cross tattooed on his arm after he paid a visit to the city in 1862. The exact same tattoo artist tattooed Edward’s sons, the Duke of Clarence and the Duke of York, when they too made the same pilgrimage to Jerusalem twenty years later.
Coptic Christians had cross tattoo designs on their forehead as symbols of their faith. Berber women in North Africa have tattooed symbols of their faith on their faces and arms for centuries.
Today, religious images are among the world’s most popular tattoo designs, with images of crosses, angels, doves and other religious icons among the most sought after tattoos.
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