Religious art is commonly found throughout tattooing, from portraits of the Virgin Mary to praying hands to crosses. One of the most frequently tattooed Catholic designs is the sacred heart, which has been featured in religious art for many centuries. Sacred hearts are often depicted as flaming hearts adorned in a crown of thorns, pierced with a lance-wound, reflecting divine light and bleeding. The sacred heart is often associated with Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French nun who promoted devotion to the sacred heart during the 17th century and helped bring the imagery into popularity.

One of the most famous early depictions of the sacred heart was painted by Pompeo Batoni in 1760. Batoni created the "Sacred Heart of Jesus" for the Chapel in the Jesuit Church of the Gesù in Rome and the painting showcased a young, beautiful Jesus holding a glowing sacred heart in his hands. During the same time period, many other painters began including sacred hearts in their works, including Corrado Giaquinto, Miguel Cabrera and Jose de Paez.

Sacred hearts made their way into tattooing during the 20th century and are having a bit of a renaissance right now. They've become very popular within many styles of tattooing, notably traditional, neo traditional and fine line. And we've gotta say, a flaming, bleeding heart is pretty badass. Take a look at some of our favorite sacred heart tattoos in the gallery below, then let us know your thoughts on this story in the comments section on social media.