JERUSALEM - 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. 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 tattoo parlor is quiet, with only the buzz of an electric needle zigzagging across a pilgrim's arm. Pilgrims say the pain of the needle is worth the sacrifice. Owner Anton Razzouk says a tattoo is the best proof that a pilgrimage has been made because it lasts until the grave.
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