While this article confuses the Oriental Orthodox -the non-Chalcedonian churches of Egypt, Ethiopia, Armenia, etc- with the Eastern Orthodox, I still found this fascinating (from Bloomberg Business Week):
JERUSALEM (AP) — Orthodox Christians visiting the Holy Land often return home with more than just spiritual memories. Many drop by a centuries-old tattoo parlor in Jerusalem’s Old City, inking themselves with a permanent reminder not only of their pilgrimage but also of devotion to their faith.
The same Jerusalem family has been tattooing pilgrims with crosses and other religious symbols for hundreds of years, testament to the importance of the ancient ritual. While Catholics can get a written certificate of their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Orthodox Christians opt for a tattoo, a permanent reminder of their visit.
In contrast to the bustling streets of the Old City outside, the Razzouk parlor is quiet, with only the buzz of an electric needle zigzagging across a pilgrim’s arm.
Pilgrims said the pain of the needle is worth the sacrifice.
“The pain I feel is like the pain that Jesus Christ felt when he was on the cross with his crown of thorns,” said Etetu Legesse, a nurse from Ethiopia, as a scene depicting the crucifixion was etched on her triceps.
Another Ethiopian woman wailed a song as an image of the Virgin Mary was tattooed onto her arm.
“I’m singing, God, I’m thinking about God; he died for us on the cross, that’s why I’m singing,” the 35-year-old woman, who gave her name as Mebrat, said.
Read the rest here.