When choosing a tattoo design, many Christians opt for the holy symbol of the cross. It represents the central part of the faith – the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to save humanity. Not only is a cross tattoo spiritual and powerful, but it can also be combined with many other symbols and art styles, which can give it a new meaning. Whether you choose a simple version, Gothic style, or even a Celtic design, your cross tattoo represents your faith.
1. Rose + Cross Tattoo
Roses represent many things in Christianity, including purity, joy, and martyrdom. Therefore it’s no surprise many Christians choose to combine these beautiful flowers with their cross tattoo. The rose and cross tattoo can also be a patriotic inking for English people. That’s because the national flower of England is the rose, and the English flag bears a red cross, representing Saint George.
2. Three Cross Tattoo
A three cross tattoo has two meanings. Firstly, it can represent the three aspects of God in the Christian faith: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Otherwise, it could symbolize Christ and the two others who were crucified with him at Golgotha. For many Christians, the latter is a way to remember the humanity of Jesus.
3. Jesus Cross Tattoo
To truly emphasize the Christian symbolism of their cross tattoo, many people choose to combine it with the image of Christ himself. Jesus is the savior of humanity, making this type of body art a powerful and moving statement. A Jesus cross tattoo can also be combined with other symbols such as passion flowers, drops of blood, or a halo to represent Christ’s crucifixion, suffering, and holy resurrection.
4. Cross + Wings Tattoo
Because wings are associated with angels in Christianity, they are a popular choice for tattoo designs. When combined with a cross, wings can represent the wearer’s guardian angel or the spirit of a loved one who has passed away. A winged cross also represents the freedom a person feels when they embrace their faith in God.
5. Small Cross Tattoo
Choose a small cross tattoo if you want to pay subtle tribute to your faith. These tattoos are very personal and individual, reflecting your belief in God. A tiny tattoo can be placed nearly anywhere on the body, but many people choose to place a cross tattoo on their arm or wrist, so they can see it whenever they want to. It’s also easy to cover a small cross tattoo on your arm with a shirt.
6. Cross + Flowers Tattoo
Flowers have many meanings in Christianity, and they are frequently displayed in Church services, as well as at funerals and weddings. What the flowers represent is based on tradition and how they are described in the Bible. One of the most popular flowers that Christians choose for tattoos is the rose, as it is associated with the Virgin Mary. Mary is also represented by white flowers like jasmine, iris, and lily. When you are creating your tattoo design, research the meaning of the flower you choose to include.
7. Simple Cross Tattoo
When it comes to cross tattoos, many people choose bold and elaborate art styles. Others opt for a more minimal look. A simple cross tattoo can be one of the most striking designs as the symbolism is obvious. There are no other elements to this design – just faith. Simple tattoos also look good with any placement on the body. Whatever you choose, the design of your inking should reflect your personality. Every tattoo is unique, just like every person’s relationship with God.
8. Heart Cross Tattoo
A heart and cross tattoo means both faith and love. As a result, it’s a popular wedding tattoo for men. However, it is not always romantic. A bleeding heart represents God’s unlimited love for humanity. One of the most moving and ancient religious designs is the ‘Sacred Heart,’ which has become a popular tattoo choice. It includes not only a bleeding heart but also the crown of thorns – representing Christ’s crucifixion – and flames, which represent the transformative power of God’s love.
9. Tribal Cross Tattoo
The cross has been one of the most popular tribal tattoo designs for many years. That’s because the bold art style suits simple shapes and symbols like the cross. Also, the curves and points of tribal design give the cross a unique look. Tribal tattoos also have a masculine feel, making the design a favorite for Christian men.
10. Maltese Cross Tattoo
A unique type of cross tattoos is the Maltese cross. The iconic ‘arrowhead’ design dates back to the 16th Century. It was first used by a holy order of knights who were based on the island of Malta. Over time, it’s come to represent courage and bravery and is often used in military medals. Today, many firefighters choose Maltese Cross tattoos. You could also choose this design if you have Maltese heritage or are a member of the first aid organization St John Ambulance.
11. Irish Cross Tattoo
The Irish cross dates back more than a thousand years. It combines the Christian cross with the Celtic art style, which features beautiful and elaborate rings and knots. Another notable element of the Irish cross is its ring. It has many different meanings, including God’s infinite love, eternal life, and a halo. The design is a popular tattoo choice for men with Irish ancestry and Christian faith.
12. Unique Cross Tattoo
Why not put your unique spin on your cross tattoo? You can adapt this Christian symbol to reflect your personality and your faith. One option is to combine it with an animal. A tiger represents power, so when combined with a cross could symbolize how your faith in God gives you strength. Alternatively, you could take inspiration from your favorite Gospel verse – St Mark is often associated with a lion, while an eagle represents St John, and an ox represents St Luke.
13. Upside Down Cross Tattoo
The upside-down cross is widely misunderstood. Many people believe it represents anti-Christian feelings or even Satanism. As a result, it’s commonly used in horror movies, Gothic fashion, and metal music. However, it’s origin is Christian – it dates back to the first pope, St Peter. Historical accounts claim that when he was martyred, St Peter requested to be crucified upside down. The reason given is that he did not feel worthy to die in the same way as Christ. As a result, the upside-down cross has come to represent not only the Catholic faith but humility before God.
14. Cross Tattoos + Names
One of the most popular ways to honor those who have passed away is with a cross tattoo combined with their name. Military men frequently do this by adding dog tags to a cross tattoo. However, a cross tattoo with names doesn’t always represent death. Often, fathers include their children’s names on a cross tattoo to combine the two essential things in life: faith and family. For others, the inking represents God protecting their family.
15. Infinity Cross Tattoo
The infinity symbol – two joined loops that become one unending line – has been a popular tattoo design for years. That’s because it’s versatile; its meaning changes when combined with other designs. One of the most powerful combinations is the infinity symbol with a cross. It symbolizes God’s endless and unlimited love, power, and wisdom. For many Christians, this tattoo reminds them to have perspective – even when everything seems lost, their faith will never leave them. It also makes for a beautiful memorial tattoo, representing life after death.
16. 3D Cross Tattoo
An unusual option for a cross tattoo is a 3D version. While it carries the same meaning as other cross tattoos, it will attract attention and compliments. The design is ideal for Christians who have a creative, artistic side. You can keep it simple and geometric, or go for a more photorealistic style. If you go for that option, it’s essential to choose an experienced artist as the design will be more complex and detailed.
17. Cross Necklace Tattoo
A great tattoo option for Christian men is the cross necklace. If you are Catholic, the rosary could be your inspiration. That design has become more and more popular recently and makes a statement. While a cross necklace tattoo is eye-catching, you can also hide it underneath a shirt.
18. 3D Cross Wrist Tattoo
Because a cross tattoo looks good at any size, it can be adapted to any placement on your body – including smaller areas, like your wrist. The inner wrist has always been a popular placement for tattoos, as it means the inking is visible to the wearer at all times. That makes it ideal for a meaningful symbol like the cross. Rosary tattoos also suit the wrist placement as your tattoo artist can create a 3D ‘wrapped’ effect.
19. Cross Forearm Tattoo
The forearm is one of the most traditional and masculine places to have a tattoo. It never goes out of style and won’t change size too much as you get older. Plus, this placement gives you enough space for a more elaborate design – but it looks equally good with something simple. Many Christian men choose this placement for their cross tattoo because it will always be visible to them. It can also be the start of a sleeve tattoo, as you can add a variety of other symbols and designs to the cross with ease.
20. Cross Hand Tattoo
In the past, having a hand tattoo was considered very rebellious. That’s because they were associated with gangs and other criminals, and aren’t usually hidden under clothing. Today, hand tattoos have become mainstream and are popular with all kinds of people. As hand tattoos are some of the most painful due to the delicate skin, opt for a small and simple cross design.
21. Cross Finger Tattoo
If you want a subtle cross inking, try a finger tattoo. Which finger you choose is up to you. Some Christian men decide to ink the cross on their right ring finger, as it symbolizes commitment, is more visible, and complements their wedding ring on their left ring finger. In Scripture, the right hand is also associated with strength, power, and blessings. Inking the cross on the side of your finger is a discreet tattoo option and can be combined with other side finger tattoos to create a hidden message.
22. Cross Arm Tattoo
The arm is a classic tattoo placement, dating back to the original sailor tattoos. It’s one of the least painful places to get your inking, so it’s ideal for your first one. While the bicep was popular for many years, today, the back of the arm is trending. When it comes to a cross tattoo, it’s a great placement if you are looking to express your faith to others. Many Christians choose their right arm for a cross tattoo, due to its association with strength and power.
23. Cross Sleeve Tattoo
A sleeve tattoo makes a bold statement, stretching from the shoulder down to the hand or wrist. So, a cross-themed sleeve is ideal for men who want to show their faith to the world! These tattoos also require lots of patience and pain to complete, making them a spiritual experience for many Christians. To make your cross sleeve tattoo shine, combine it with other Biblical symbols and passages from Scripture. The dove of peace, angels, and roses are all popular choices that have powerful meanings.
24. Cross Chest Tattoo
Chest tattoos are some of the most meaningful because they are, literally, close to your heart. It’s also one of the more painful areas to be inked, so only the most important designs are worth it. For those reasons, many Christian men choose a chest placement for their cross inking. Plus, because men’s chests are wide and flat, there’s room for a bigger tattoo.
25. Cross Back Tattoo
Like the chest, the back is a meaningful placement for a back tattoo. It’s said that ink on this part of the body represents the foundation of a person’s life, making it perfect for a religious tattoo. While the inking can’t be seen without the help of mirrors, the wearer always knows it’s there. Because the back is one of the largest and flattest areas on the body, many men choose it for intricate tattoo designs. However, a simple cross is equally good.
26. Cross Neck Tattoo
Like hand tattoos, neck tattoos were once considered to be rebellious due to their criminal connection. However, today, they are growing in popularity; many athletes, musicians, and actors choose this area for their ink. Because neck tattoos are very visible, as well as painful, they are ideal for your most meaningful tattoos. If your faith is at the center of your life, a cross tattoo on your neck shows the world what it means to you.
27. Cross Behind the Ear Tattoo
Tattoos behind the ear have been trending recently, and this placement is ideal for a Christian tattoo. That’s because ears and hearing have great spiritual significance in the Bible. A cross tattoo behind the ear symbolizes ‘hearing’ the Word of God. Not only is this a powerful tattoo option, but it’s also discreet – if you have longer hair, you can easily hide it.
28. Cross Shoulder Tattoo
Shoulder tattoos, like forearm tattoos, have been popular with men for generations. They give you plenty of space to show off a larger and more complex design. Plus, because we use this part of our body to lift, shoulder tattoos often represent strength. A cross tattoo in this area symbolizes that God is your strength, protecting you, and helping you to carry your burdens.
29. Cross Ankle Tattoo
The ankle is another discreet place to put your cross tattoo, as you can easily hide it with socks or long pants. Ankle tattoos are becoming more and more popular for men, as the ‘no socks’ trend means you can show off your ink more often. A cross tattoo on this part of your body has a powerful meaning, too. It symbolizes that faith in God grounds you and centers you.
30. Cross Face Tattoo
The cross face tattoo was once considered extreme, as it’s a common inking among gang members and prison inmates. However, small and subtle cross face tattoos have recently become popular after being embraced by celebrities like Justin Bieber. A tiny cross at the corner of your eye or on your temple can represent your spiritual journey and learning to know God – metaphorically opening your eyes and your mind.
What does it mean to have a cross tattoo?
Cross tattoos can be a representation of your devotion to religion or faith. In Christianity, the cross is where Jesus died to save humanity, so it's a significant symbol. Likewise, a cross tattoo can also mean unconditional love and sacrifice, as Jesus felt and did for the human race. However, crosses' prevalence in after-death rituals such as burial means that one could also use the symbol to pay tribute or memorial to a lost loved one.
What does a cross on the finger mean?
There's no specific meaning for having a cross tattoo on your finger, but it depends on your intention behind the choice. Some people choose to ink it on the side of the finger, as this is a more subtle placement. Alternatively, some men decide to place it on the right ring finger, as a show of devotion, similar to a wedding ring. Plus, in Scripture, the right hand is also associated with strength, power, and blessings.
What does a black cross mean?
A black cross doesn't carry any specific meaning in itself, and the color choice is often just a style decision. While there are variations of black crosses associated with different people and organizations, the styles of these vary. Unless you specifically get one of these crosses, the general use of black is merely a style choice. It can help create a bold design with strong lines that really stands out.
Is a tattoo a sin?
Whether or not you consider having a tattoo to be a sin will depend on your personal convictions and religious beliefs. The Bible specifically calls out not having tattoos in Leviticus 19:28; however, the interpretations of this can vary. Many recognize the words in the context of pagan and satanic rituals. Therefore, if you're getting a tattoo of that kind as a practicing Christian, it may be considered a sin. If not, it's a personal preference. The teachings of Islam also indicate that permanent tattoos are a sin, as they alter god's creation and inflict unnecessary pain. However, nothing is mentioned explicitly in the Quran, so again, it comes down to personal interpretations and preferences. Buddhism and Hinduism allow tattoos, and they play an important role in both religions.
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