“If I get a tattoo for you, you can’t be mad about it.” That was Ren Navarro’s logic when she chose to adorn her bicep with Gertrude of Nivelles, the patron saint of books and learning, in honour of her mother, who is no fan of tattoos. Ren already had a full sleeve at that point, and one for mom, whose middle name is Gertrude, was overdue.
Gertrude was never canonized, but rather adopted as a saint. In recent popular culture she has been attributed as the patron saint of cats, of which Ren has a couple. The image on her arm shows Saint Gertrude holding a staff and surrounded by books, candles and skulls (’cause why not have skulls, says Ren).
“[It’s] not super obvious,” Ren says of why she chose Saint Gertrude as her homage to her mother. There’s the typical mom tattoo we can all picture, but that just doesn’t fit her vibe. “It’s a really random thing to do, but it all makes sense and it all ties back into something that’s really important to me,” she said.
Books for Tats
This deeply moving memoir explores coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter.