Israel’s Ambassador to the Vatican has been researching history of tattoos for past 20 years, recently organized conference on subject, but does not does have any tattoos himself
The Israeli Ambassador to the Vatican has an unusual line of expertise – tattoos. Mordechai Levy recently initiated the first ever academic conference on the history of tattoos in one of the Vatican’s universities.
The conference was attended by experts from around the world and Levy used the opportunity to present a study he conducted on the matter. According to his study, tattoos was brought to Western Europe by Christian pilgrims who journeyed to the Holy Land in the 16th Century and not by Haiti’s James Cook in 1771 as commonly believed.
Levy’s tattoo fascination began in the mid 1980s while he was serving in Israel’ s embassy in Sweden. He had been reading journals of Swedish pilgrims who came to the Holy Land and discovered they tattooed their bodies. While researching the subject, Levy came to the conclusion that the tattoos were applied by members of the Franciscan Order in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. “The Franciscans needed to provide for their lodgers who were essentially tour guides,” Levy said.
“The tattoos were based on pilgrim motifs like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Ascension of Jesus, the fructification, the cross, Jerusalem and others. We also discovered Hebrew tattoos on Christian pilgrims’ bodies. One such 19th Century tattoo read ‘Jerusalem’ and depicted the Western Wall and the Temple Mount,” he added.
And in case you were wondering, with all his love for tattoos Levy does not boast even one on his own body and has no intention of getting one in the future.