Tattoos & Single Catholics: 87 Percent Are Ink-Free


Among the many interesting questions singles answer when they create a CatholicMatch profile is the question of tattoos.

I recently asked Nate, our programmer extraordinaire, to crunch the numbers on this entry field.

The results: 87 percent of CatholicMatch members do not have tattoos.

Of those, the vast majority say they would never get inked. And yet 10,659 members answered “no, not yet,” implying they would consider getting a tattoo.

To those folks, I’m curious: What image are you considering? What’s holding you back?

For those singles who did report tattoos, 78 percent had one or two. Still, nearly 1,200 members have more than five tattoos.

To those inked-up CatholicMatchers, leave a comment and tell us about your body art!

And one more pressing question, for the 837 members who have removed tattoos: What and why did you remove it? Did any of you remove the name of an ex? Are you glad to be ink-free now?



  1. Linda-954866 August 20, 2013 Reply

    I believe God wants us to honor our bodies and using needles to draw pictures on our skins…I’m a little doubtful its okay with him…so while others might do it, I won’t. 🙂

  2. Holly-769600 January 19, 2012 Reply

    I have a Jesus fish on the side of my left foot. I choose this tattoo as a reminder to “Always walk with Jesus”. My dad and I went to the shop wtogether and he had a holy spirit dove engulfed in a tongue of flame reminding him to “Be on fire with the Holy Spirit”.

    I have been stopped by deacons and priests and complimented on my tattoo. One deacon told me that mine was the first tattoo he had ever seen that he liked!

    Tattoos should be meaningful in my opinion. But honestly, my opinion shouldn’t be involved in other people’s decisions.

  3. Laura-775703 October 21, 2011 Reply

    I have no issues with tattoos as long as they are not hateful or racist.

    I have one tattoo on the back of my shoulder, a butterfly, and I am a beautiful girl inside and out. Some of the comments above are just cruel and judgemental.

  4. Melissa-666686 October 8, 2011 Reply

    I know priests that have tattoos, very holy men of God that are active in various ministries with tattoos, and other catholic friends with tattoos. Some of them are big and some of them are small. In no way do they detract from their appearance or self-worth. As long is there is nothing vulgar or violent about the tattoo (gang signs, nudity, etc.) than there is no problem with it. A person’s character and devotion to our Lord means more. In fact, I am considering getting one myself.

  5. Linda-666928 October 1, 2011 Reply



  6. Sid-720187 September 7, 2011 Reply

    First tatoo ever was the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with the words “Ave Maria” below it. No i’m not confused. But, that being my first tatoo, and not knowing if I’d ever get another one, I wanted to have something about Mary. So, when I got my second tatoo, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I got the words “Cor Iesu” below it. My third and fourth (done at the same time) are the Star of David on my left leg and the Jerusalem Cross on my right leg. I honestly just wanted a simple bold design with solid coloring, and something that was geometrical. Of course, I do appreciate and value their meaning as well. My latest tatoo is on my right foot, and it’s a small heart with a cross in the middle.

    I do intend on getting at least one more, the St. Benedict medal (the backside with the Latin acronyms) on my back. After that, who knows? By the time I have enough money for anymore, i’ll likely be married and have a wife that will temper my enthusiasm for holy tatoos. 🙂

  7. Benjamin-148488 July 12, 2011 Reply

    In the end, no one cares about the arguments pro or con, they just know they like/want tattoos or don’t. Kind of like the same thing when someone really likes someone or doesn’t. The arguments really don’t justify the mystery or explain it.

  8. Maureen-741455 July 11, 2011 Reply

    Early days of Christians, used the fish tattoo to show other Christians but would attempt to make it less noticeable by adding other sea animals.

  9. Claire-346324 July 10, 2011 Reply

    I have 4 tattoos and I want 3 more (so far). All of mine are of things I find interesting and like to think about often. I have a portrait of Nikola Tesla, in whom I’ve been interested since I was a kid, and I have a Tesla coil with a banner that says “Keep Moving Forward”, that I got at a time that I really needed to remember that. It’s also a reference to a Walt Disney quote from “Meet the Robinsons”. Those are on one arm. On the the other arm I have the moon from the old movie “Trip to the Moon”, which was the first science fiction film. I make films, and I love steampunk, which fits in with those old movies. Under that is a banner that reads “The Coming Thing”, which is a reference to the TV show “Brisco County Junior”. It’s about looking to the future, specifically about technology. Yes, all my tattoos are super nerdy and require explanation. Next I want to get a picture of St. Thomas Aquinas on my shoulder, and airship on my arm, and a very small bracelet that says “The Little Way” on my wrist. Those are the things I am into right now, and that I want to always be reminded of. I love tattoos, as long as they are of something the person cares about. Ones people get because they are trendy are silly, in my opinion, and perhaps even vain.

    I think it’s art, and if you would spend money on a painting, why not a tattoo? That way you can carry it around with you. Also, I don’t see it as trying to improve on what God made any more than cutting your hair, putting on nail polish, or wearing a flattering shirt. Just as we can use our God-given reason and our language to express important ideas, we can also do that by expressing ourselves in tattoos. It’s a way of seeking and enjoying the good, but like anything, must be done in moderation. And that goes for tattoos on men and women, thank you very much!

  10. Tesa-671012 July 9, 2011 Reply

    Tatoos are a pagan custom. Just because it is “accepted” as “body art” doesn’t make it acceptable to Jesus. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost. Getting tattooed doesn’t give Him glory—it is another way to display self-indulgence, independence, and a following of the world, rather than Christ. To treat tattoo as acceptable is to mislead Catholics into conforming with the devil, even unknowingly, which is one of his methods of work; if one recognized the evil in a thing, one would avoid it. Are you next going to encourage people to use Ouija boards as recreational fun?

  11. Benjamin-148488 July 9, 2011 Reply

    I like my tattoos, and i intend to get at least one more set: one of the iconostasis on my back, with St. Nicholas, Mary, Jesus, and St. John the Baptist.

  12. Angela-725706 July 8, 2011 Reply

    I have a Jesus fish on my left inner ankle and I love it. I love tattoos and I want a few more. Finally, if someone wants to judge me on that basis alone, he or she is someone I don’t want to know anyway.

  13. Antoine-704466 July 4, 2011 Reply

    Not much on tattoos. Like my lady friend to be ink free. If we marry I want to see her natural beauty at those special times. I would never ink-up.

  14. Kevin-324948 July 3, 2011 Reply

    hi there well i have a tattoos of a celtic cross on my arm and on the cross are two flowers in the cross which I think that i gives a good mesage and that is Christ died on the croos and the flowers represent That he brought life to the world I think tattoo are fine if they give a good mesage and don’t go over board

  15. Scott-566363 July 3, 2011 Reply

    I think well thought out and designed tattoos can express what is important to us more than words ever can. Personally, I am a bit edgy and I am looking for that in a partner as well. Any woman that has the confidence to make a permanent illustration of their faith on themselves and vigorously defend it in a world less and less interested in anything to do with the Lord has my respect and honor. That said, I think modesty is something that shouldn’t be overlooked but I find the above rosary tat attractive on many levels and not overkill. The most important thing is that we know our faith, inside and out. If tattoos can be used to express who we are and bridge the gap with people that otherwise think of our faith as boring and superstitious then why can’t the Lord use us??

    As far as Leviticus, I know a couple great series put on by Scott Hahn that explain the revelance of Levitical Law in our lives today… or lack there of.

  16. Sherrie-702451 July 3, 2011 Reply

    I have two, one on my diaphragm and one on my lower back. The one on my diaphragm is a white tiger descending from the jungle at sunset or sunrise. I chose her because at that time of my life I was a mystic and interested in the protection the white tiger would bring. The one on my lower back is a dragon and affords the same type of protection. When I returned to the Catholic faith of my childhood I returned as a much less conservative person but no less spiritually connected to God and the Holy Mother. My tattoos are in places where they are not seen by others and unless I find a mate they will not be seen by others. I thought hard about revealing that I have tattoos in my profile because I am quite aware of the level of judgement and non-acceptance placed on me due to my art work. I came to the conclusion that if I am forgiven by God for my digression(should there have been any) then the right partner for me will do the same. If a man looks at my profile and turns away from me because I have tattoos which are not visible when I am clothed then he is not the one for me.
    He would never understand the rest of my personality either….

  17. Jacquelyn-737588 July 3, 2011 Reply

    I would NEVER get one!

  18. Ilda-522334 July 3, 2011 Reply

    Hi to everyone!
    I agree with some of you here that are saying tattoos are like many other ways we use to express ourselves or to make us feel more comfortable, more beautiful, etc… in fact, it’s like using makeup, painted hair, painted nails, moustache and beard or nothing at all, or even the women (and more recently men) doing depilation.
    Tattoos are just another way of changing or complete ourselves.
    And we forget that tattoos exists from centuries ago. It uses to be a cultural thing, but now it became, like so many other things, into a globalized issue.
    This being said, I can say I would NEVER do a tattoo for the same reason I never have changed the color of my hair or used makeup, reason which is: I have learned since very soon in life that “the face is the mirror of your soul”. So, what I have to improve all the time is the inside and not the appearance.
    And I mean it.
    God bless you all.
    P.S.: Sorry for the not perfect English, but it’s not my native language.

  19. Janelle-697651 July 1, 2011 Reply

    I have the word Faith in a pretty script on my foot and two little footprints around it

  20. Nicole-723440 June 30, 2011 Reply

    Very interesting to read everyone’s opinions, there are always the extremist (the absolutely not and tattoos head to toe) I fall in the middle…My first tattoo-when I place my feet together shows the alpha and omega characters. Have been able to share God as my beginning and end, and of course in the middle, with others! Second/Third tattoos-I have my son’s signatures on the inside of my forearms…will NEVER have regrets on what I chose. Maybe I should take pics and post on profile…

  21. Valerie-739737 June 30, 2011 Reply

    I have only two tats and they are both placed on my ankles and I dont think that unless you go overboard with it it is a bad thing. In scriptures it does say dont make any decor on yourself. In the grand scheme of things, tribes and aborginies have tons of markings and its part of their lifestyle and culture and Im sure they still have a place in heaven. I believe that god loves you and accepts you when you mostly do the right thing thats for you and other people. Im an artist and have been drawing and painting since I have been 3-4 yrs old ever since I could pick up a pen and really i believe that this whole universe and everything in it is a canvas, but we are all open books with blank pages. Less is more sometimes and god doesnt care as long as you love him, oh btw, my tats are acceptable and lady like and are easily covered up.

    • Antonio-309296 July 1, 2011 Reply

      @Valerie…God loves EVERYONE, but He doesn’t want you to do most of what is right for you but He wants you to do EVERYTHING that is right to Him. If one ever stumbles and sins, God will be there to forgive if the sin is acknowledged and there is sincere sorrow for it. But if one knows something is wrong in God’s eyes but does it anyway because it’s right for him or her, that is a far worse sin.

      • Careese-449851 July 1, 2011 Reply

        According the Church, who is our authority here on earth, tattoos are NOT a sin.

        “All things are lawful, though not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” 1 Cor. 6:12

        “For you were bought with a great price, so with every part of your body give glory to God, because He owns it.” 1 Cor. 6:20

        Here we see that Saint Paul is telling us that all things are lawful. (Hence, we can have crabcakes and pork ribs!) To tattoo oneself in excess, making it an addiction, would to be “brought under the power of it.” Then, it is an idol, or the person is enslaved. That is the sin. A few tattoos that are not anti-Christian, but beautiful to the wearer are not a sin.

        I believe we must all pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in our decisions. What is right for one person, may not be right for the other. Also, we must ask Him to show us our heart and the reason for wanting something.

  22. Antonio-309296 June 30, 2011 Reply

    If The Vatican were to give a formal announcement stating that it is a sin to get a tattoo and gave scripture as its basis…would it at all chance anyone’s opinion of them? If it wouldn’t, why not? I’m curious.

  23. Stacey-101742 June 29, 2011 Reply

    It doesn’t bother me persay if someone has a tatoo tastefully done and respectful. I personally find it difficult to see women particularly but men too with full sleeves , that really does hurt my eyes .
    But what I would like to bring to the discussion , and of course I cannot remember the scripture verses, but where it says something to the effect that women are not to adorn themselves , and it makes mention how we are to take care of our bodies and not decorate them so to say . Just what is the teaching in the church on that ? We all have opinions , and that is good . But in reality , aren’t we suppose to be more concerned as to what God wants and NOT what we want ? The cost of a tatoo , can that money be better spent on the poor ? The marginalized ? Giving to the church ?
    I am just wondering .. Its good to talk about things and discuss and hear opinions too .
    Thank you for reading mine . = )

  24. Tyler-720599 June 29, 2011 Reply

    I have a tattoo, and I think that they’re great. In fact, I know a priest who has two full sleeves of tattoos, a big huge beard, and rides a motorcycle. If I didn’t know any better, I’d assume he was a member of Hell’s Angels. In fact, just the opposite.

    The Church’s opinion on tattoos has never been officially negative, and thus has never been drawn from the idea that we shouldn’t be tattooed since we cannot improve on God. By that very same logic, modest ear piercings would be a grave violation as well. As I see it, the opposition we see within the Church comes primarily from very conservative people who are not opposed for religious reasons, but rather because tattoos are rather ostentatious and contrary to ‘the norm’. (Not to slander ultra-conservatives: I am one!) But the Church has always said that it has no problem with tattooing as long as a.) the tattoo(s) are not anti-Catholic; and b.) the tattoo(s) are not meant to be contrary to society or in any way inflammatory.

    I have a tattoo on my back that I really love, and all my priest buddies have seen it (including two Archbishops) and I’ve never heard so much as a word against it. Personal preferences aside, tattoos and the Church can fit nicely together! 🙂

    • Constance-712913 June 29, 2011 Reply

      I agree completely Tyler! As I was scrolling through this thread, I kept thinking about ear piercings and wondering if anyone would bring up that very common type of “body alteration” which is never considered a sin within The Church. You highlighted all the points I wanted to make. I have a tattoo also with the words “Love Is My Religion”, and it too is placed in an area where it can’t be seen unless I want it to be seen. While people are being so critical of those with tattoos (especially women with tattoos; hypocritical much?) I would argue that maybe they should work on developing their sense of LOVE for others as God is Love, rather than being so quick to judge.

    • Lydia-701096 July 8, 2011 Reply

      I like this response. Seeing God in all things is key to me. A flower or a beautiful animal scene would appeal to me on canvas, people, paper. To say “God, I love this thing you created! I want to share it with others and remember it!” does not seem evil.

  25. Chris-718320 June 29, 2011 Reply

    I have my son’s name on my back “Noah”, and on one of my legs, a tribute to my brother who commited suicide 2 years ago. It is a big cross, a guitar(that was his life-music)with a rose, and a rosary intertwined. Very cool. My parents(hardcore oldschool Catholic) even like it.

  26. Frank-404213 June 28, 2011 Reply

    while i agree that God made us perfectly, i do not see anything wrong with tattoos. it does depend however on the nature of the tattoo and the reasoning behind getting it. getting a tattoo because it looks cool i think is disrespectful to God. it’s simply vanity. but to get a tattoo of something that you feel passionate about or one that has deep sentimental attachment is quite different. especially if the tattoo is in an unassuming place. i for example have a tattoo honoring st. michael, with the words “protect me”. as a police officer, i risk my life on a daily basis to serve and protect others. having the tattoo makes me feel as though i can never be separated from the protection that st. michael gives. i also feel that it is an expression to all those who see it, of my devotion to serving God.

    • Lindy-688837 June 28, 2011 Reply

      See, that’s what I’m talking about. I like it Frank!

    • Thomas-63082 June 29, 2011 Reply

      Leviticus 19:28Tattooing is regarded in Sacred Scripture as a pagan practice: “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor shall you make in yourselves any figures or marks: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:28/DR). It is considered to be a mutilation of the body in contravention of the Fifth Commandment.

      The fact that the tattoo may be of a religious object does not justify the practice. Exhibitionism is intrinsically unCatholic as falling short of the virtue of humility. Would Our Lord have had a tattoo? Our Lady? Of course not
      There is another argument against the practice, which relates to the Fifth Commandment, which forbids unnecessary harming of one’s body, the Temple of the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul calls it. Catholic moral theology teaches that by the Principle of Totality, a person is not permitted to authorize the mutilation of his own body except for the benefit of the whole body by the principle of totality. Mutilation of the body can be justified
      only on the supposition that it is necessary or useful toward obtaining some physical benefit (as an amputation of a diseased leg to prevent gangrene).

      A lot of you will say that Leviticus is part of the Old Testment. So what do you suggest we as Catholics should do Rip the scripitures out of the Bible ?

      • Frank-404213 June 29, 2011 Reply

        i understand and accept the laws laid out for us in leviticus, however there are exceptions to everything. more specifically, anything that will bring others closer to God, or spread his word is acceptable. ie. getting a tattoo of religious can and quite often does serve as an icebreaker for a discussion of the word of God. look at the amount of discussion it has caused on this site alone.

      • Tyler-720599 June 29, 2011 Reply

        There are hundreds of laws laid out in Leviticus (and elsewhere in the Pentateuch) that we no longer follow. And to suggest that tattoos have anything to do with exhibitionism is unfair. My tattoo is completely covered by my shirt, so unless I’m topless at the beach (pretty rare in Central Canada…) nobody gets to see it.

        Also, to suggest that one could possibly know what Jesus or Mary would do in regards to anything, not even tattoos, is, I think, a bit of a stretch for any person.

      • Careese-449851 July 1, 2011 Reply

        Thomas, when I converted to Catholicism I specifically asked a sister, because I had someone mention this. She told me I did not need to have the tattoo removed, because there is no Church teaching saying we cannot get them. Do we all abstain from pork and shellfish? Do we attend Mass only on Saturdays? Some things did change with Christ’s coming. Are tattoos bad? Maybe, but not always. IMO.

        At this point, I do not feel God wants me to remove mine. It is a heart on my ankle with my son’s name in a banner across. Through the heart is a four-leafed clover to symbolize God’s miracle in giving this child to me and to honor his Irish ancesty.


  27. Lindy-688837 June 28, 2011 Reply

    “To each his own” I have many different thoughts on the subject from: maybe I would get one (doubt it) to why would you want to put something on you can not take off. I used to be much more closed minded about them, but my beautiful daughter (inside and out) loves them and has quite a few. All of hers have great meaning to her, and if you listen to her rhyme and reason, you can’t help but be a little more understanding….. If nothing else they are an ice breaker. Have you ever asked that person who you are staring at, and wondering about “what is the significance of your tattoo’?
    Not necessarily my thing, but I say “to each his own”

  28. Kristen-705599 June 28, 2011 Reply

    I’m surprised by the responses that state it a negative thing for women to have tattoos. What makes it acceptable for a man to have one rather than a woman? In my opinion, don’t judge someone before you know them just because they have body art.

  29. Eric-462361 June 27, 2011 Reply

    Tattoos on a woman are AT BEST neutral, and by a vast majority a negative.
    I cannot think of any time that I have ever looked at a woman and thought, “Gee… She sure would look prettier if she had a tattoo of a dragon wrapped around her arm/leg.”
    I had a tattoo that has long faded away. It was a body tag that I got on my ribs under my armpit when I was in the Marine Corps. I count it among one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done.
    A tattoo, no matter what significance it holds to you, is viewed as poor decision making ability by many others. That is unless of course you are a biker… They tend to be known as achievers and leaders of the business world.

  30. Amanda-735960 June 27, 2011 Reply

    I got “Let it be” written on the inside of my foot in light pink. I love it!

  31. Leanna-730492 June 26, 2011 Reply

    Each of my tattoos has a special meaning for me and each can be covered up for work. The first one I got over ten years ago, its a symbol for ‘dream’. One of my more recent ones from within the last year is a phoenix.. the last two years was a huge change its one of the reasons that I got.

    I think its great whether you do or do not have ink. Its a personal decision – do what makes you happy.

  32. David-412405 June 26, 2011 Reply

    I don’t see anything wrong with having tattoos it makes me no more or less of a person. I have the back of the St. Benedict medal on my arm, and on the other arm a cross that a good friend mine drew. I plan to get a few more. I have all of mine where they can be covered with clothing. My dad always told me to make sure I could cover up if i needed to for work. But like everything it must be done in moderation. Just like drinking alcohol. Too much of a good thing is bad.

  33. Alyse-735147 June 26, 2011 Reply

    I have the theological virtues on my foot

  34. Joseph-248539 June 26, 2011 Reply

    I’m not a canvas. I am a sculpture. 😉

  35. Edward-512961 June 26, 2011 Reply

    Especially in the case of women getting tattoos, it is just vandalism, graffiti. Why do we think we can improve what God already made (and quite well, too)?

    • Careese-449851 July 1, 2011 Reply

      Well technically, most women improve on what God gave us every morning before we leave the house! LOL.

  36. Edward-512961 June 26, 2011 Reply

    When drawn, sketched, etched, etc., art belongs on canvas or paper.

    • Tony-705734 June 27, 2011 Reply

      To go and say that art belongs on canvas or paper, then you would have to say that all of us should look alike. But that isn’t the case. People have different ways of cutting and styling their hair, wear what clothing and jewelry they want, or adding what scents they want to their bodies. In the case of women, they put on what make up they want to in order to express themselves better. In the case of men, we design what facial hair we want, and keep it groomed that way as a form of expression. Tattoos are no different in this way. To say otherwise would mean that we all have to look alike. And to me, I believe that the Almighty and Ever Merciful knows that we are, metaforicaly, “canvas and paper” he created.

    • Lizeth-717393 June 28, 2011 Reply

      I totally agree with you!.. “art” of that matter on people just doesnt look good at all.

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