Religious tattoos are still very popular with many collectors today, and one of the most recognizable images that has been made popular in the tattoo community is found in that of the Christian community with the Sacred Heart (aka The Sacred Heart of Jesus).

Neo-traditional sacred heart and flowers by Luan Roots
Black work ornamental sacred heart by Miss Sita at One O Nine Tattoo in Barcelona

This is an image that is particularly important in the Roman Catholic Church, and it represents Jesus Christ’s heart as his love for all humans. The earliest known devotions to the Sacred Heart occurred around the eleventh century and was brought about by Saint Bernard. In the 14th century Pope Innocent VI declared that the Sacred Heart should be idolized and worshipped. From there on it became a symbol of love and devotion. 

Old school Immaculate Heart of Mary by Alvin Aldridge at Rose Land Tattoo
Old school Sacred Heart and flowers by Basile Maurizio at Inked Soul Tattoo Studio

There are three common depictions of the heart in its original form: the Heart with a crown of thorns like the crown that Jesus was forced to wear, the heart with a cross on top to represent the crucifixion, and finally, flame surrounding or coming out of it which represents divine light of love. 

Neo-traditional take on the Sacred Heart by Ashleigh MacIsaac-Bruno
Black and grey Sacred Heart by stillink.tattoo in Italy

As a tattoo many people choose one of these three versions, or get it custom made with added flowers, decorative pieces, faces, colours, etc. The most common styles are American traditional, black and grey, and neo-traditional. 

Black and grey Immaculate Heart of Mary by Tom Cox
Old school Sacred Heart and lady head by Duan Tattoo at Sick Rose Tattoo Parlour in Shanghai

There is another version of the Sacred Heart that represents the Immaculate Heart of Mary (mother of Jesus), but this version is usually seen being pierced by a sword instead of a crown of thorns. 

Black and grey Immaculate Heart of Mary by Bram Adey at Main Street Tattoo Collective in Winnipeg
Wall flash by Jake Cordál at Kilburn Tattoo in London

Edited by Harrison R.

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