Traditional heart tattoos

Traditional heart tattoos DEFAULT

Traditional Heart Tattoos

Heart tattoos originated from sailors who were doing a long stint at sea, as there was a possibility, they would not return home. It was a symbol and way to keep their loved ones close and sometimes these hearts were with or without names. Most of the time they read Mom/Mum or the name of a special person from home, but they also could be decorated with flowers, swallows, skulls, and much more.

Heart tattoos can also represent more than just Love. A few other meanings are compassion, courage, grief, loss or as a memorial tattoo for someone that has passed away. Often you will see the tattoo imagery with a dagger going through or behind the heart which signifies ruthlessness, death, sacrifice or betrayal by love lost.

This design can be traced back to early Christianity artwork and the symbol has traditionally been called the “Immaculate or Sacred Heart of Mary”. It has been used to depict Mary’s divine love and beauty, as well as her suffering. Another popular image is the sacred heart which is a Christian symbol for the heart of Christ and is a sign of devotion. Outside of religion the heart and dagger can also represent the Voodoo spirit Erzulie Dantor, a bisexual female goddess believed to protect women, children and those society has cast away. For sailors, this heart and dagger are a sign of loyalty and willing to fight anything. To this current day hearts still remain one of the most popular tattoos for sailors.


50 Traditional Heart Tattoo Designs For Men – Devotion Ink Ideas

The heart shape is one of the most versatile symbols when creating traditional tattoos. One of the most classic tattoos is a heart tattoo with a banner over it that says “mom” to depict a man’s devotion to his mother.

Modern variations of the best heart tattoo ideas may include the name of another loved one, favorite location, or other type of love.

Almost all traditional heart tattoos are either black and grey or black and red. Due to the symbolic nature of this shape, it is often used as a frame around another tattoo to show a person’s deep love for the item.

Of course a heart typically symbolizes romance, but its meaning may change when it is combined with the other common elements of traditional tattoos. For example, a dagger and a heart symbolizes betrayal, while a bird and a heart normally is a symbol of hope. Combining a dagger with a heart emphasizes how steadfast love can be, and adding flames around a heart shows a more passionate type of love. All of the possible combinations allow endless versatility when adding a heart tattoo to your body.

All Seeing Eye Dagger Traditional Heart Mens Outer Forearm Shaded Tattoo Designs

Anchor Lighthouse Scene With Heart Center Male Traditional Inner Forearm Tattoo Designs

Beating Heart Guys Black Ink Old School Traditional Arm Bicep Tattoos

Behind The Ear Dagger With Heart Mens Traditional Tattoos

Cool Grenade Heart Male Traditional Tattoo Designs

Creative Traditional Heart Amle Forearm Tattoos

Crown Of Thorns With Heart Mens Traditional Upper Chest Tattoos

Flaming Heart Mens Traditional Religious Upper Chest Tattoos

Gentleman With Snake Heart Traditional Inner Forearm Tattoo

Guys Forearm Sleeve With Heart And Cross Traditional Tattoo Designs

Guy With Forearm Tattoo Of Black Crow Flying With Heart Traditional Design

Heart Dagger Guys Traditional Tattoos On Arm

Heart With Clock Mens Traditional Inner Arm Bicep Tattoos

Heart With Staircase Guys Traditional Forearm Tattoos

Honor Mens Dagger Traditional Heart Back Tattoos

Las Name Traditional Flaming Heart Guys Half Sleeve Tattoos

Leg Male Sailing Ship Heart Traditional Tattoo Designs

Lower Leg Detailed Im Colder Than Most Traditional Heart Tattoos For Men

Mens Arrows Through Heart Traditional Forearm Tattoos

Mens Dagger Through Heart Traditional No Love Banner Leg Tattoos

Mens Old School Nature Landscape Heart Traditional Tattoos

Mens Small Sunset Rope Heart Traditional Arm Tattoos

Mom Anatomical Heart Guys Memorial Tribute Traditional Inner Arm Tattoos

Mom And Dad Heart Mens Small Traditional Tattoo Design Inspiration

Mother Dagger Heart Male Traditional Tattoos On Arm

Palm Heart With Keystone Traditional Male Tattoos

Punk Knife Heart Male Traditional Lower Leg Tattoos

Red Black And Blue Traditional Heart Male Forearm Tattoos

Retro Dagger Heart Male Traditional Arm Tattoo Design Inspiration

Shaded Mom Heart Mens Traditional Inner Arm Bicep Tattoos

Skull Heart Guys Traditional Forearm Tattoos

Small Mom Traditional Heart Mens Inner Arm Tattoos

Storm At Seas With Lighthouse And Heart Male Traditional Old School Arm Tattoos

Sunken Ship Mens Sunset Traditional Heart Inner Arm Bicep Tattoos

Tearful Heart Mens Traditional Outer Forearm Tattoos

Thigh Tattoo Of Heart With Sailing Ship Male Traditional Tattoo Designs

Traditional Anatomical Heart Grandma Memorial Mens Arm Tattoos

Traditional Dagger Through Heart Mens Outer Forearm Tattoos

Traditional Guys Dagger Through Heart Tattoo Design Ideas On Forearm

Traditional Heart With Yellow Rose Flower Mens Lower Leg Tattoos

Tree Root Heart Guys Traditional Inner Arm Bicep Tattoo

Upper Chest Woodcut Grim Reaper Inside Heart Male Traditional Tattoos

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The Burning Devotion Displayed By Sacred Heart Tattoos

Sacred hearts are easily one of the most iconic and beloved Christian symbols, commonly depicted in paintings, sculptures, stained glass windows, jewelry, and tattoos. To followers of Catholic and Christian faiths, the symbol of the sacred heart is a powerful emblem of Christ’s enduring love for humanity, despite the suffering of the past and present.

Traditionally depicted as a flaming bleeding heart encircled by thorns, each facet of the sacred heart design is intended to convey a special meaning in relation to Christ’s sacrifice and divine love, making it a perfect choice for a tattoo honoring your faith.

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Tattoo by Tyler Abner #TylerAbner #sacredhearttattoos #sacredhearttattoo #sacredheart #heart #fire #love #religious $rose #flower #blood #cross #color #traditional
Tattoo by Austin Maples #AustinMaples #sacredhearttattoos #sacredhearttattoo #sacredheart #heart #fire #love #religious #VirginMary #rose #flower #color #traditional
Tattoo by Teide #Teide #sacredhearttattoos #sacredhearttattoo #sacredheart #heart #fire #love #religious #illustrative #mouth #eye #blood #illustrative

Top Sacred Heart Tattoo Questions

What is the meaning of a Sacred Heart tattoo?

While a sacred heart tattoos meaning is entirely up to the wearer, most people who adopt this symbol in tattoo form are using it to commemorate a connection to Christ or Mary. The flame emerging from the sacred heart tattoo symbolizes the eternal and undying love of Christ towards humanity while the thorns, swords, and blood symbolize the inevitable pain and suffering of Christ’s earthly existence.

sacred heart tattoo by black dagger tattoo norwich #blackdaggertattoo #blackdaggertattoonorwich #sacredheart #flower #fire
sacred heart tattoo by josh tatsup #joshtatsup #sacredheart #thorns #dagger #fire #scalp
sacred heart tattoo by floatingworldtattoos #floatingworldtattoos #sacredheart #roses #eye #dagger #bluefire

Wearing a sacred heart tattoo can be a symbol of Christian or Catholic faith, a representation of Christ’s sacrifices and love for humankind, or an ode to Mary, Christ’s mother. Depending on what elements you utilize within your sacred heart tattoo will determine its meaning. For example, a sacred heart surrounded by thorns is traditionally used to represent Jesus, while a sacred heart encircled by lilies or white roses is for the immaculate heart of Mary.

Tattoo by Tim Hendricks #TimHendricks #sacredhearttattoos #sacredhearttattoo #sacredheart #heart #fire #love #religious #Chicano #blackandgrey #rose #flower #sword #blood #dagger #chesttattoo
Tattoo by Sarah Schor #SarahSchor #sacredhearttattoos #sacredhearttattoo #sacredheart #heart #fire #love #religious #blood #sword #blackandgrey #illustrative
Tattoo by Sera Helen #SeraHelen #sacredhearttattoos #sacredhearttattoo #sacredheart #heart #fire #love #religious #sword #chain #skull #blackandgrey

Why do people get a Sacred Heart tattoo?

Many people get a Sacred Heart tattoo because they want to show their love and devotion to their religious faith in a permanent way. However, because the Sacred Heart design is so iconic, many people choose to get this design tattooed on them simply because it is beautiful. There is also the fact that Sacred Heart tattoo designs incorporate many of peoples favorite motifs in one perfect image: roses, swords, fire, and hearts are all full of meaning that empowers a lot of people. Remember, getting a tattoo is a very personal thing, but it doesn't necessarily have to have meaning. Sacred Heart tattoos are a perfect example of that: whether you're religious or not, this tattoo is a great looking piece.

Tattoo by Chris Stuart #ChrisStuart #sacredhearttattoos #sacredhearttattoo #sacredheart #heart #fire #love #religious #color #traditional #rose #flower #iris #sword #blood
Tattoo by Chingy Fringe #ChingyFringe #sacredhearttattoos #sacredhearttattoo #sacredheart #heart #fire #love #religious #tears #blood #sword #lady #portrait #tribal #color
Tattoo by Ellis Arch #EllisArch #sacredhearttattoos #sacredhearttattoo #sacredheart #heart #fire #love #religious #color #illustrative #neotraditional #sword #eye #pearls

Can you get a Sacred Heart tattoo if you’re not religious?

You can definitely get a Sacred Heart tattoo if you’re not religious. If you're like us, you may have grown up in a Christian hippy commune where people spoke in tongues, believed in prophecies, and prayed on their knees every single night. And although the power of Christ no longer compels us, we can still really appreciate the beauty of religious icons...especially that of the Catholic persuasion. Some of these Sacred Heart tattoo designs definitely carry the bold imagery that hits home, but there's tons of other art that depicts the same aesthetic. Think about it: a whole lotta Catholic imagery involves brutal forms of torture, or super strange happenings like Stigmata.

Tattoo by Alan Chen #AlanChen #sacredhearttattoos #sacredhearttattoo #sacredheart #heart #fire #love #religious #blackandgrey #illustrative #sparkle #tears #arrows
Tattoo by Sofia Ripper #SofiaRipper #sacredhearttattoos #sacredhearttattoo #sacredheart #heart #fire #love #religious #illustrative #crownofthorns #thorns #blackandgrey
Tattoo by Berly Boy #BerlyBoy #sacredhearttattoos #sacredhearttattoo #sacredheart #heart #fire #love #religious #yingyang #mushroom #blood #trippy #surreal #thorns

The History of the Sacred Heart Symbol

The earliest known usage of the sacred heart symbol occurred in the 11th century when Saint Bernard proclaimed that Jesus’s death on the cross was symbolic of his unconditional love for humanity.

The symbol then became popularized in 17th century France where it was promoted by the Roman Catholic Church as a symbol of Christ’s eternal love for humanity. Since that time, the sacred heart’s popularity has endured and the symbol has been used throughout the years by believers in the Catholic and Christian faiths in fine art, jewelry, and tattoos.

Blood, cobra, and thorns. Tattoo by Zac Scheinbaum #ZacScheinbaum #sacredhearttattoo #blackandgrey #heart #thorns #blood #dotwork #cobra #reptile #snake #light #love
Golden heart. Tattoo by Jeliza Rose #JelizaRose #sacredhearttattoo #gold #metal #reflection #fire #angel #wings #filigree #pattern
Symbol of devotion. Tattoo by Miss Juliet #MissJuliet #sacredhearttattoo #blackandgrey #heart #rose #flowers #floral #fire #pattern #pearls

Top Sacred Heart Tattoo Motifs

If you’re interested in a sacred or immaculate heart tattoo, it’s important to explore the design elements you’d like to include within your piece. Since sacred heart tattoos can be used to represent Jesus, Mary, and Joseph independently, we will review the different tattoo motifs that can differentiate these designs, as well as common accents to the Jesus heart tattoo.

Sacred heart tattoo by Dario K #DarioK #sacredheart #heart #daggers #fire
Vintage image showing the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Jesus Sacred Heart

If you’re looking to honor your connection to Christ through a sacred heart tattoo, a piece featuring Jesus holding or wearing the sacred heart can be very powerful. If you’re not looking for something as large-scale or detailed, you can always represent Jesus and the concepts of his love and sacrifice through a sacred heart of Jesus tattoo, which is defined as a bleeding and flaming heart with thorns circling it, shining with divine light.

Mary Sacred Heart

If you are looking to honor Jesus’s mother Mary, you can explore what is known as an immaculate heart of Mary tattoo. Similar to the sacred heart of Jesus, the immaculate heart differs in that it is wrapped in white roses to symbolize Mary’s purity of spirit and the miraculous conception of her son. In some designs, lilies are used to represent this innocence and virginal quality. The next design element in the sacred heart of Mary tattoo is the sword which is typically piercing the heart, symbolizing the pain and sorrows Mary suffered in her lifetime. Lastly, the heart is encircled by rays of the sun, meant to depict a greater connection to God. Similar to the sacred heart of Jesus tattoo, the immaculate heart is also showcased with a burning flame meant to represent Mary’s love, passion, and devotion to humankind. For those interested in a larger-scale immaculate heart tattoo, you can also include portraits of Mary in your piece.

Chicano sacred heart tattoo by Juan Diego Pietro aka illegal.tattoos #juandiegopietro #illegaltattoos #sacredheart #chicano #roses #blood #fire
Mary's sacred heart tattoo by Brittany Victoria Boucher #BrittanyVictoriaBoucher #sacredheart #roses #daggers #fire #blackandgrey
Chicano sacred heart tattoo by Juan Diego Pietro aka illegal.tattoos #juandiegopietro #illegaltattoos #sacredheart #chicano #roses #blood #fire

Roses Sacred Heart

If you are looking to represent Jesus’s mother Mary, encircling your sacred heart tattoo with roses is an excellent design addition. Traditionally, white roses have been used to symbolize the purity of Mary’s heart and her divine conception, but you can use any color you choose. Roses have different meanings depending on their color, so you can further personalize your piece by choosing a color that represents something about you.

Daggers Sacred Heart

When you add a dagger to your sacred heart tattoo, it works to represent the earthly pain and suffering of Mary, Joseph, or Jesus, depending on your intended meaning. Some sacred heart tattoos feature only one dagger, while others show many piercing through the design.

Thorns Sacred Heart

A common addition to sacred heart tattoos is thorns as they work to represent Jesus’s crucifixion and the pain and suffering that he has endured throughout his love for humanity.

sacred heart tattoo by Chase Tucker #ChaseTucker #sacredheart #skull #thorns #fire
sacred heart tattoo by sergio rodrigues #sergiorodrigues #sacrerdheart #thorns #fire #cross
Surreal sacred heart tattoo by indigotattooer #indigotattooer #sacredheart #fire #thorns #surreal

Lilies Sacred Heart

If you don’t prefer roses, or you’d like to add extra flowers to your sacred heart tattoo, you can incorporate lilies into your special piece. Typically showcased as white lilies, these flowers are the embodiment of Mary’s innocence and purity.

Third Eye Sacred Heart

Blending the third eye with the Sacred Heart is a beautiful way to say that your eyes are open to the power of love and devotion. A third eye Sacred Heart tattoo also has a touch of Surrealism, which is always a plus in our book!

third eye sacred heart tattoo by Daniele Mazza #DanieleMazza #sacredheart #thirdeye #fire #rose #neotraditional
third eye sacred heart tattoo by polo erase #poloerase #thirdeye #sacredheart #fire #chest
third eye sacred heart tattoo by lesharroyo #lesharroyo #sacredheart #thirdeye #flower #blood #heart #fire

Skull Sacred Heart

This design becomes a bi of a memento mori: it reminds us of the ever present reality of death and the importance of undying adoration for truth and heart.

Best Placements for Sacred Heart Tattoos

If you’ve decided on your sacred heart tattoo design, your next consideration will probably be the placement of your tattoo. When deciding on placement, is important to contemplate your body shape, how visible you’d like the tattoo to be, and how large you’d like it. When you're unsure, always consult your artist and explore their suggestions on placement and size!

sacred heart tattoo by holly ellis #hollyellis #sacredheart #portrait #ladyhead #scull #butterfly #fire
sacred heart tattoo by kimsatgat #kimsatgat #sacredheart #brokenglass #shattered #fire #cross
sacred heart tattoo by antonio gaballo #antoniogaballo #sacredheart #fire #cross

Sacred Heart Back Tattoo

Because this particular design is perfect in any size, a Sacred Heart back tattoo is a good idea whether you want it large or small! It's also seen as a form of protection for some, and a lovely reminder that God has always got your back.

sacred heart tattoo by gareth davies #garethdavies #sacredheart #wings #roses #thorns #fire
Sacred Heart tattoo by Lydia oh Lydia of Mans Ruin #Lydiaohlydia #mansruin #sacredheart #sword #dagger #fire #moon #heart

Sacred Heart Neck Tattoo

If you’re not afraid of a bold placement and constant visibility, a sacred heart neck tattoo may be perfect for you! Whether you place your design on the front, side, or back of your neck, the sacred heart tattoo has incredible impact and looks stunning.

Sacred heart neck tattoo by Alex Duquette #alexduquette #sacredheart #thorns #cross #fire #neck
sacred heart tattoo by nick wallin #nickwallin #sacredheart #thorns #fire #neck
sacred heart tattoo by gwad pearl #gwadpearl #sacredheart #blackandgrey #thorns #cross

Sacred Heart Chest Tattoo

Whether you’re interested in a large sacred heart with wings tattoo, or a heavily detailed Ornamental style piece, the chest is a wonderful placement for this powerful design. Sacred heart chest tattoos can easily be adapted to incorporate many elements, so your design is entirely up to you.

sacred heart tattoo via tattooing room #tattooingroom #sacredheart #rose #dagger #fire
Sacred heart chest tattoo by Miss Juliet #MissJuliet #sacredheart #sword #dagger #fire #rose #blood #dropsofblood #chest

Sacred Heart Hand Tattoo

Sacred heart hand tattoos are a popular placement, thanks to the shape and power of this particular design. When choosing a tattoo in a high visibility area, many people elect for pieces that represent strong areas of connection in their lives, like symbols of faith.

Sacred Heart Palm Tattoo

Though this placement can be prone to fading and high on the pain scale, sacred heart tattoos look pretty incredible on the palm. If you’re brave enough, this can be a high-impact design to represent your faith.

Sacred Heart Forearm Tattoo

If you’re interested in a medium to small sacred heart tattoo, the forearm can be an excellent placement for this design. The sacred heart can easily be worked into a sleeve design and combined with other religious iconography and symbols.

sacred heart tattoo by eddy electric ink #eddyelectricink #sacredheart #neotraditional #filigree #gold #fire
sacred heart tattoo by terribletuckey #terribletuckey #sacredheart #lily #flower #thorns #traditional
Sacred panther #traditional #traditionaltattoo #panther #sacredheart #morph

Sacred Heart Finger Tattoo

With such a small space to work with, you'll definitely want to find an artist who knows their stuff. Fineline is usually best for Sacred Heart finger tattoos, but there are tons of artists out there who do Micro Realism that can pull off a piece you'll love to look at all day long.

An intricate finger tattoo by Dr Woo...

An intricate finger tattoo by Dr Woo...

Top Styles for Sacred Heart Tattoos

Whether you want to select your design from sacred heart tattoo flash, or you want to create a fully custom piece with your artist, it’s important to figure out which style you think would work best. Listed below are the top styles for this motif!

sacred heart tattoo and cobra cross tattoo by elojochueco #elojochueco #sacredheart #traditional #mashup #surreal #rose #dagger #cross
Sacred heart tattoos by Daniel Gensch #DanielGensch #sacredheart #dagger #fire #thorn #rose
sacred heart tattoo by giuliacarnio #giuliacarnio #sacredheart #fire #dagger

Chicano Sacred Heart Tattoo

The Chicano tattoo style has only grown in popularity since it came to the mainstream, perhaps because the religious iconography used within the style is so powerful. Because the Chicano style comes from Mexican culture, Catholic imagery is very often used. Over the years, artists have refined, explored, and evolved the different ways things like Sacred Hearts can be designed, making a Chicano Sacred Heart not only beautiful, but full of culture and meaning.

Traditional Sacred Heart Tattoo

Sacred heart tattoos look great in a Traditional style, thanks to the vintage feel, strong colors, and bold lines of the aesthetic. If you’re thinking of an Old School style sacred heart tattoo, make sure to find an artist who specializes in this style. Traditional style sacred heart tattoos can also be rendered in all-black for those who don’t prefer color.

sacred heart tattoo by jonnys hand #johnnyshand #sacredheart #fire #traditional
sacred heart tattoo by luca diana #lucadiana #sacredheart #roses #dagger #fire #rtaditional
Traditional sacred heart tattoo by Jordan Brill #JordanBrill #sacredheart #thorns #blood #fire #cross

Neo Traditional Sacred Heart Tattoo

If you love the bold colors and strong lines of Traditional tattooing, but you’re searching for something a little more feminine, Neo-Traditional sacred heart tattoos are a wonderful choice! Experiment with Ornamental accents, detailed flowers, or mesmerizing jewels to help enhance your design.

sacred heart tattoo by chezblaqk #chezblaqk #sacredheart #neotraditional #skull #fire
sacred heart tattoo by anholt tattoo #anholttattoo #sacredheart #lettering #gilded #filigree #pearls #fire
Sacred heart tattoo by jiperone18 #jiperone18 #sacredheart #heart #fire #pearls #neotraditional

Blackwork Sacred Heart Tattoo

Blackwork sacred heart tattoos possess a special fierce yet somber quality, making this a perfect style to showcase the eternal love and suffering of Christ. From hearts featuring the eye of Providence to stunning etch style rays and jarring thorns, Blackwork style sacred hearts feel intense and look beautiful.

Black and Grey Sacred Heart Tattoo

For those who enjoy Fine Line styles, and smooth shading, Black and Grey sacred heart tattoos are a prime selection. Not as high-contrast as Blackwork, Black and Grey styles provide a slightly more subtle and shaded look. This style works wonderfully for those looking to portray a Realistic sacred heart tattoo.

Geometric Sacred Heart Tattoo

If you are interested in a modern style sacred geometry heart tattoo, rest assured that this style really works to accent the beauty of the sacred heart design. Many have used this style to add additional spiritual meaning and significance to their piece.

Illustrative Sacred Heart Tattoo

Of course, Illustrative include everything from Fineline to Esoteric, but our favorite style of Illustrative Sacred Heart may be etching style. Harking back to the medieval age, or eras following that held Christianity close, these designs really capture the history of this particular heart.

sacred heart tattoo by brady c tattoo #bradyctattoo #sacredheart #etching #cross #fire #thorns
sacred heart tattoo by drubiedoo #drubiedoo #sacredheart #flower #fire
Traditional chestpiece by Liam Sparkes.

A symbol of Christian love and devotion, sacred heart tattoos are about as iconic as the pope himself. No matter what your religious affiliation, you gotta admit that these designs are pretty powerful conceptually. A representation of Jesus' physical heart in symbolic form; they illustrate his undying love and devotion for the human race. Considering Jesus died for our sins, we can kind of understand how a symbol like this could carry some serious emotional weight. And even if you don't get sacred heart tattoos because of how much you dig Jesus, it's still cool that this particular design has such an intense history within the religious world.

Interested in more religious tattoos? See more: Coptic Christian Tattoos - Signs of Devotion.

Sacred Heart Tattoo Inspiration

Through this whole guide on Sacred Heart tattoos we hope you've been inspired by these Sacred Heart tattoo designs, but just in are some more tattoos we think will be great Sacred Heart inspo!


Written byTattoodo

A curated collection of counter culture. Featuring the world's top artists. Show us yours.

50 Traditional Heart Tattoos For Men

Traditional Sacred Heart Tattoos

We love Traditional Sacred Hearts but if you're looking for an in-depth look at this iconic design check out our guide: The Burning Devotion Displayed By Sacred Heart Tattoos

The Sacred Heart is one of the most profound images in Christianity, representing Jesus Christ’s actual heart and his eternal compassion for mankind. Since its advent back in the 17th century, the Sacred Heart has appeared in numerous art forms — paintings, sculptures, stained glass windows, and more. Aside from churches and museums, one of the places the divine figure is commonly seen is in body art. Over the years, it has become a staple motif in traditional tattoos, moving from the corridors of cathedrals and onto skin.

A divine Sacred Heart by Heinz (IG—heinztattooer). #Heinz #SacredHeart #traditional
A very vibrant sacred heart from Becca Genné-Bacon's body of work (IG—beccagennebacon). #bangers #BeccaGennéBacon #sacredheart #traditional

Looking for a tattoo artist?

That's why we’re here. No matter your idea, budget or location, we will help you find the perfect artist for your next tattoo.

Get started

The Sacred Heart is most frequently depicted engulfed in flames and glowing with an angelic light. It generally features a lance-wound at its center and is almost always entangled in a crown of thorns. Artists tend to incorporate a cross at its top as well. All of these visual elements relate directly to Christ’s crucifixion and are symbolic of his sacrifice and eternal love for humanity.

A beautiful Sacred Heart with a dagger ran through it by Woodz (IG—woodzart). #dagger #SacredHeart #traditional #Woodz
A Sacred Heart in a demon's hand by Akira Latanzio (IG—akira_latanzio). #AkiraLatanzio #hand #SacredHeart #traditional

The idea of the Sacred Heart as we know it today comes from Roman Catholicism. It is associated with what is known as the devotion to the Sacred Heart. This set of holy ritual originated in the summer of 1674, when a French nun named Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque who claimed to have had three visions of Christ, in which he revealed the devotion to her. The rite consists of holding Communion on the first Friday of each month, Eucharist on Thursdays, and the annual Feast of the Sacred Heart.

A sacred heart stabbed six times by Mikey Holmes (IG—mikeyholmestattooing). #bold #colorful #American #daggers #MikeyHolmes #sacredheart #traditional
A Sacred Heart with a mouth at its center by Dave Halsey (IG—davehalseytattoos). #DaveHalsey #SacredHeart #traditional

According to Alacoque, Christ promised her a number of provisions to all those that practice the devotion, including providence, forgiveness, and eternal life in heaven. Because of the precedent that she set hundreds of years ago, the devotion is still widely practiced today in several denominations of Christianity — high-church Anglicans, Lutherans, and Catholics, of course.

A bold Sacred Heart by Matt Cannon (IG—mattxcannon). #MattCannon #SacredHeart #traditional
An ornate Sacred Heart by Drew Shallis (IG—drewshallis). #DrewShallis #sacredheart #traditional

While the Sacred Heart is revered as holy among most Christians, that’s not always the case in the world of body art. Tattooists, as they are wont to do, take artistic liberties with the design, some of which would make every dead Pope roll over in his grave (or sepulchre, whatever you call it). Even if some artists like to dabble a bit in sacrilege, every Sacred Heart tattoo carries the connotation of Christ’s Passion, and the idea of love, selflessness, and, most importantly, redemption.

To see more immaculate traditional tattoos, make your way to these tattooists’ Instagram. Should you want a Sacred Heart of your own, have one of them inscribe the divine figure on your body.


Written byTattoodo

A curated collection of counter culture. Featuring the world's top artists. Show us yours.


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