“It’s Real” Tattoo: Ink and a Mission From God

black grey jesus tattoo

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Many of us get tattoos to celebrate special moments from our lives. But what about a tattoo to celebrate special moments from the afterlife?

Recently, a California woman named Madie Johnson got a very unique “It’s Real” tattoo. And she said it commemorated her aunt getting a glimpse of heaven after the aunt died and was then brought back to life.

Of course, religion and tattoos have gone hand in hand since the very first tattoos. Keep reading to discover more of her story and the history of religious tattoos!

“It’s Real”


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Madie Johnson’s ink inspiration was her aunt, Tina Hines. And Tina’s story is really intense: she died multiple times and kept being shocked back to life.

When Tina woke up in the hospital, she couldn’t speak, so she wrote two simple words: “it’s real.” She later verified that she was talking about Heaven itself!

The tattoo Madie Johnson received recreates her aunt’s religious revelation right down to the handwriting. In this way, she is carrying on a very rich history of ink and religion.

Slaves to Saints

saint michael tattoo.jpg

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Tattoos have had a bad reputation for many years. One reason for this was simple: tattoos were often given to prisoners and other unsavory people to physically mark them for their alleged crimes.

Early Christians who were sent to work in places like mines often received tattoos on their heads as an extra punishment. They ended up getting the last laugh, though: later Christians proudly wore religious tattoos as a way of telling the world about their faith.

Tattoos played another surprising role in the lives of the faithful: they were the signs of someone going on the ultimate road trip!

Religious Road Trips


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Christian pilgrimages were a very popular way for believers to strengthen their faith. Such journies have also been immortalized in pop culture through literature such as Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

The Christians who went on these early pilgrimages typically got tattoos for two reasons. First, tattoos were seen as a form of protection: some of the faithful felt tattoos could ward off evil forces as they made their long pilgrimages.

Second, these tattoos served as the ultimate memento of the journey. Just like modern tattoo lovers, Christians would get tattoos in exotic destinations so they would have a permanent memento of their special trip!

Modern Faith, Modern Ink

bible arm tattoo

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How does the modern world mix Christianity and tattoos? With a lot of creativity!

Some people get 3D tattoos to illustrate the Bible lurking beneath their skin. Others get Soundwave tattoos that allow them their very bodies to make “a joyful sound unto the Lord” wherever they go.

As long as there are believers, there will be cool ways of displaying faith via tattoos. And modern Christians are finding new ways to carry on spiritual traditions that have occurred for millennia!

“It’s Real” Tattoo: The Bottom Line

We’ll be honest: we haven’t ever died and been brought back to life, and we don’t have our own “It’s Real” tattoo. But we still like to tell everyone about what’s “real” in our eyes!

Be sure to bookmark Tattooing 101 to hear more tattoo stories to inspire and amaze. And of course, we’re always happy to provide ideas for your next tattoo!

Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain.

When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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