Searching for a tattoo with religious significance and a little bit of flair? There are plenty of choices, but a St. Christopher’s tattoo is one of the most popular options.
The image of St. Christopher has been in use for hundreds of years, the symbol of a protector, particularly of travelers. As a tattoo, this image carries many of the same meanings.
This article looks at the history, symbolism, and styles of the St. Christopher image as a tattoo.
What Is the History of the St. Christopher Tattoo?
The image of St. Christopher comes from the third century A.D. and has been venerated through the traditions of the Catholic faith for hundreds of years. Originally, these images were statues, and later medallions.
There is no clear record of when St. Christopher tattoos first appeared, but it’s likely that they emerged when tattoos became popularized in the 1900s.
History of St. Christopher:
According to traditional literature, St. Christopher was a martyr who died around the year 251 A.D.
Legend has it that St. Christopher was a large man, sometimes considered a giant, who adopted the Christian faith, and showed his devotion by helping travelers cross a river.
According to the legend, one day St. Christopher was asked to take a child across the river. The child grew heavier with each step Christopher took, and it was later revealed that the child was actually Christ, and that the weight Christopher felt was the weight of the world.
Despite the burden, St. Christopher carried the child all the way across the river.
What is the Symbolism of a St. Christopher Tattoo?
St. Christopher is often called upon to be the protector of travelers. Carrying the image of St. Christopher is said to bring good luck and safe passage on a person’s journey.
The tattoo of St. Christopher symbolizes protection on the road of life. It is thought to guard against sudden death or other misfortunes.
It is also believed that St. Christopher’s image will bring luck, health and prosperity to those who wear it, particularly those faithful who travel.
The image most commonly depicted symbolizes St. Christopher’s protection of his charge from the dangers of the river, and thus symbolizes that protection extending to the holder of the image.
What Meanings Can a St. Christopher Tattoo Have?
The most common meaning for a St. Christopher tattoo is a request for protection during one’s travels. It may represent a prayer for a safe journey.
A St. Christopher tattoo may also be worn to commemorate a journey, or a time when the person felt they received divine protection in their lives. In this manner, it can represent a reminder that they are being watched over and protected.
It may also be worn as a representation of faith, and the belief that they are protected from the potential dangers of life.
It is also possible that the image may be worn to signify that a person has decided to take the mission of St. Christopher as his or her own. It may represent a person’s dedication to the goal of offering others protection on their travels, or symbolic protection on the road of life.
As an alternative meaning, it may imply that a person has chosen St. Christopher to be their patron saint, for personal reasons.
Where Are St. Christopher Tattoos Usually Placed?
The upper arm and shoulder are the most popular locations for this tattoo to be worn, in accordance with the legend that St. Christopher protected travelers by carrying them across the river on his shoulders.
The second most popular choice is the forearms. This usually results in a smaller image, or a sleeve-like design.
Though slightly less common, some individuals choose to place the St.Christopher tattoo on their chest, reminiscent of where it would fall if it were worn as a medallion.
For a larger, more detailed image, there are a few instances where the tattoo has been done along the side or covering the entire abdomen.
It is rare to see a St. Christopher tattoo on the lower half of the body, but it has been worn on the calf in a few instances.
Styles and Characteristics of St. Christopher Tattoos:
St. Christopher tattoos come in many different forms, from a single line drawing an outline or a simple silhouette, to a full illustrated image in color.
Common characteristics Include:
– The image almost always depicts St. Christopher with a child on his shoulders.
– St. Christopher is almost always depicted as looking up at the child, and usually in a walking pose with a staff in hand.
– It’s fairly common for a background to be included, showing the river St. Christopher helped guide travelers across.
– St. Christopher is usually shown as a tall, bearded man
Aside from these characteristics, there is a great deal of variety among designs.
– Some choose a design reminiscent of a medallion, circular in shape.
– Images done in a medallion style often have a border inscribed with the words ‘St. Christopher Protect Us’: An invocation of the guardianship the saint is known for.
– Images can be done in color, or in a pen-and-ink sketch style
– Common images are incredibly detailed illustrations, but they have been done in the minimalist style as well
– In some cases, they may also be drawn in a design reminiscent of a stained glass window depiction.
– In most cases, the image is that of a middle-aged man, but some variations have an older man depicted.
– In the most popular version, St. Christopher seems to be walking toward the viewer, however, some images have him shown in profile instead, looking to one side or the other.
Whatever depiction of St. Christopher you might choose, this image is a powerful and well-respected representation of protection. As a statement of personal beliefs, or a symbolic request for aid, a St. Christopher tattoo will serve you well, and make a definite impression on those who see it.