Rock Of Ages Tattoo Meaning

People’s beliefs influence the images they choose for tattoos. These can vary from religious beliefs to life principles and personal ethics. The tattoos are chosen to depict specific themes in these concepts. The Rock of Ages tattoo falls into this category and has an uplifting and comforting meaning.

A Rock of Ages tattoo is rooted in Christianity. It represents deep faith in Jesus Christ as the rock that cannot be moved and is constant throughout all time. Rock of Ages tattoos are popular with sailors who place their trust and faith in God to keep them safe through life’s storms.

The phrase ‘Rock of Ages’ has a ring of eternity to it. In our unstable world, people feel the need for an enduring rock to cling to.

What Does A Rock Of Ages Tattoo Mean?

A Rock of Ages tattoo is a Christian symbol showing a stone cross with a woman clinging to the cross. The phrase Rock of Ages was first used in a hymn written by Reverend Toplady, who found himself caught in a storm. As the storm raged, the reverend found shelter in a gap in the gorge. 

Reverend Toplady wrote the famous hymn “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.” It is thought that the reverend was reminded of the story of Moses in Exodus 33, where God hid him safely in the cleft of a rock.

Rocks are used symbolically throughout Christian scripture. Isaiah speaks about God as the everlasting rock. He also refers to God as the cornerstone of a foundation. The imagery is of stability and strength.

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as a rock on which people can build their lives. This image speaks of having a sure foundation of faith that allows the individual to deal with the troubles and problems in life.

Johannes Oertel painted a picture titled The Rock Of Ages, showing a stone cross rising above waves and a shipwrecked woman clinging to the cross. This image has been the inspiration for most of the Rock of Ages tattoos.

Rock Of Ages Tattoos With Nautical Themes Meaning

Rock of Ages tattoos have been popular with sailors from all eras. The nautical theme seen in the original painting appealed to sailors. They understood the fear and real threat of a storm at sea. To be shipwrecked and set adrift in a vast ocean is terrifying.

Sailors in the past and present face this life-threatening possibility every day, and as a result, some develop a deep faith that God is their rock and will rescue them. The Rock of Ages, Jesus, is a stable presence that connects the physical and spiritual worlds. Even in death, Jesus is a constant rock that will guide souls. Sailors depicted their beliefs with tattoos showing the Rock of Ages.

Most people can understand the fear of being shipwrecked and do not need to be sailors to choose this tattoo. Ships and rising suns are often added elements in these tattoos.

Meaning Of A Rock Of Ages Tattoo Showing Two Women 

In some Rock of Ages tattoos, a woman clings to the cross, leaning into the water and pulling another woman closer to the cross to save her.

This tattoo depicts that people with a strong belief and faith can assist others in trouble and struggling with life. A strong relationship with God makes people stable, with the courage to reach out to others, even when life is scary.

Rock Of Ages Tattoo With Water From The Cross

In Exodus in the Bible, there is a story of God providing water for the Israelites from a stone. In some Rock of Ages tattoos, this imagery is incorporated by water pouring from the cross. A stone is an unlikely place to find water. The tattoo shows that when God is your life source, he will provide for your needs even when it seems an impossible situation.

Rock Of Ages Tattoo with Emphasis on The Cross

In some Rock of Ages tattoos, the cross is emphasized by color or size. These tattoos are used to reflect that the wearer is totally dependent on God.

In the Psalms, the authors write about God as the rock that is an impenetrable fortress that hides and protects them. Emphasizing the cross shows the immensity and power of a God who transcends time and space. 

Psalm 61 verse two says, “Lead me to the Rock, that is higher than I.” The rock speaks of shelter and refuge.

Many Rock of Ages tattoos is inked as large images on the chest, back, or thigh. They make a powerful statement, showing the individual’s commitment to their spiritual beliefs.

Rock Of Ages With Yellow Or Orange Crosses

Some Rock of Ages tattoos is completed with the cross in yellow or orange. This color references Jesus Christ, represented by the cross, as the world’s light. Jesus said that he came to bring light to a dark world. This Rock of Ages tattoo represents that concept.

Rock Of Ages Tattoo With Flames

A variation in the Rock of Ages tattoo is where the water and waves are replaced by flames licking at the foot of the cross. This image shows the wearer’s belief that Jesus rescues souls from torment created by addictions, poor life choices, and troubles. He lifts them from the flames.

Rock Of Ages Tattoos With A Bible Image

In certain tattoos, the Rock of Ages picture is paired with an image of a Bible lying next to it. This tattoo symbolizes that the Bible is the truth that can be relied on as solidly as a rock.

Some individuals may choose to encircle the image of the cross with a scripture that has special significance to them. People who have had their lives radically altered by a Christian experience often have a favorite scripture central to their change.


Rock of Ages tattoos originate in Christianity and have been on people for centuries. They are bold tattoos usually produced as large images, making a definite statement by the wearer.    

Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you

working on tattoo at my studio
Working at the studio on one of my projects

Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.

Design and tattoo ideas

For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):

Tattoo meaning

If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).

Tattoo aftercare

The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):


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