The Sacred Heart is one of the most popular images in Christianity, and many religious followers choose to have the image affixed to their body by way of a tattoo so they can have a constant reminder of its importance to them.
The Sacred Heart represents Jesus Christ’s undying love for mankind, and it has been circulated for generations.
There are a number of different design basics that the Sacred Heart can employ. There is always a heart of some sort at the center of the piece, and a secondary image complements the heart with a Christ theme. The secondary image might be angel wings, a halo, a cross, or anything else that expresses the idea of Christ. A Sacred Heart tattoo represents the wearers devotion to the church and to Jesus.
Some images of the Sacred Heart include thorns wrapping around the heart, which is also adorned with a crown of some sort. These more ornate Sacred Heart designs are common amongst tattooists, who typically prefer something with a bit more flash than the most basic or dull version of an image.
The Sacred Heart isn’t exactly mainstream, which means a tattoo artist can create it from scratch if necessary.
1. Colorful Sacred Heart Tattoos
Even though the sacred heart image is traditionally depicted in color it is rarely done so in ink. Which is a shame really because there’s great scope for upliftment via a bright and colorful sacred heart tattoo. The red of the heart is obvious as is the color of the flame. But where a color sacred heart tattoo really shines is the rays of light.
Cloud and sky background shading allow for a brilliantly vibrant use of white ink and negative space. This is not only creative, it’s tremendously visually appealing. Color allows for a truly accurate depiction and brings warmth to your sacred heart tattoo.
2. Daggers and Sacred Heart Tattoos
The Immaculate Heart of Mary is a similar symbol to the sacred heart. The same heart, flame, and rays of light still appear but instead of thorns there’s roses, and a dagger is piercing the heart without a cross.
Not all sacred heart with dagger tattoos are the immaculate heart of Mary, but if you feel a connection to the Virgin Mother then this is a great choice. That said, adding daggers in any form to the sacred heart will have the same meaning: suffering and sacrifice of the crucifixion melded with the unending love for mankind.
3. Sacred Heart Sleeve Tattoos
The sleeve has taken pride of place for walking works of art. If you want a vast, three–dimensional scene to carry everywhere with you, you can’t go past the sleeve. Even though they’re everywhere now, a full sleeve would have been truly shocking for most of last century in the West.
But once we got a hold of the idea, then we really ran with it! The sleeve is now the go-to tattoo style for a single blended scene. A sacred heart themed sleeve is a great opportunity to combine elements of religious symbolism, or other more diverse and esoteric themes can be merged into one beautiful expression.
4. Sacred Heart Tattoos With Added Religious Symbolism
The sacred heart need not standalone as a tattoo. If you have enough canvass and the will to use it then additional religious imagery is a winning choice. In particular, realistic portraits of Jesus or Mary as depicted in countless religious paintings around the world.
A highly skilled tattoo artist can create an almost painting like work on your body. Images range from the compassionate Jesus, gazing lovingly to the weeping Jesus wearing his crown of thorns. Always with the sacred heart. Add in a Virgin Mary portrait and you have a devotional series worthy of a stained glass church window, or home shrine.
5. Traditional Black and Gray Sacred Heart Tattoos
The traditional sacred heart includes some form of the following: flames or smoke, rays of light, thorns and the cross. Tattoo wise it is almost always depicted in black and grey. Black and gray is awesome for achieving depth. Just like in film it brings a solemnity to the work.
The sacred heart is not a frivolous piece of pop art. It’s well suited to the traditional style and since it’s such an old and revered symbol there’s not necessarily a need to get creative with it. Sometimes simple and traditional is best. If you simply wish to honor your religion, then opting for the original symbol in black and gray is an excellent approach to take.
6. Sacred Heart Chest Tattoos
After the sleeve the chest fights it out with the back for the best piece of canvas for a large tattoo. That said, not all chest pieces need to be big. The fact that it’s the physical location of the heart makes it well suited to a sacred heart as either standalone or centerpiece.
Wings are a common frame but for mine you can’t beat the rays of light beaming out of the heart to the outer edges of the chest. Due to the sheer size though the world’s your oyster. There’s no limit on what you can achieve here. Color, portraits, minimalist but large. It’s all on offer with a sacred heart chest tattoo.
7. Sacred Heart Tattoos With Names/Script
With the sacred heart as a focal point script can be used to steal the show, to complement or to bring in another meaning entirely. Adding loved ones’ names won’t pull the focus away from the main piece and is a thoughtful way to honor them.
Quotes are always popular and in this case something religious will add oomph. Psalm 147:3 is a classic: “He heals the wounds of every shattered heart.” I also like the Hebrew script as it’s visually appealing. This is excellent to use for simple phrases like “everlasting love,” and will add depth to your sacred heart tattoo.
8. Sacred Heart Tattoos and The All Seeing Eye
The all–seeing eye sitting within the sacred heart symbolizes the love of God watching over us. It’s a reassuring and comforting reminder that just like the shepherd, He is always watching over His flock. Usually depicted realistically in black and gray, the gazing eye can have a powerful effect on its viewer. It’s a particularly nice contrast with the traditional sacred heart symbol, which is not as realistic in style. If you want your piece to be bold and attention grabbing the all seeing eye is a must.
Sacred Heart Tattoo FAQs
What does a burning heart tattoo symbolize?
It’s not hard to decipher in the symbolism of a heart on fire. We’ve been writing songs about that for decades and poems for centuries. A burning heart symbolizes passion and fire in love. That said, that is NOT the real meaning of flames or smoke coming from the sacred heart image.
The sacred heart is a religious symbol. The flames do represent Jesus’ heart inflamed with love for mankind. But the fire imagery is originally there to represent God in two ways. Firstly, think the burning bush. Secondly, in the old testament burnt offerings were given in sacrifice to God. The crucifixion was the ultimate sacrifice and that is represented through smoke and flames.
Did you enjoy these depictions of the sacred heart but looking for more religious inspiration? Click on the links below for more awesome ink galleries: