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

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Naiara Leão

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