How Christians made tattoo cool in Ancient Rome

Naiara Leão
5 min readJun 12, 2018

“I bear on my body the marks of Christ.” Tattoos went from being a form of punishment for criminals and slaves to a symbol of political and spiritual rebellion.

The naturally mummified body of a 7th-century Sudanese woman. She has a monogram of St. Michel tattoed. Photo: British Museum

In Ancient Rome, in the first centuries AD, tattoos meant the same as for the majority of society a few decades ago: a habit of criminals and outlaws. The Romans were using it as public punishment for slaves and convicted

Naiara Leão

Nomad. PhD student of Religion, early Christianity and Women's and Gender Studies. Follow my IG @academicanomad