A newly appointed priest adorned in tattoos says the online abuse she suffered at the hands of trolls prompted a deluge of support.
Reverend Wendy Dalrymple, head of worship at Canterbury Cathedral, also stressed the “horrible experience” enabled her to connect the people.
The announcement of her appointment in July was mired by vile trolling on Twitter, now X, taking aim at her detailed body art.
Commenting on a photo of the clergywoman showing large tattoos on both arms, trolls claimed she exhibited “pride and vanity”.
Others even appeared to take issue with the fact a woman had been appointed as a priest, with KentOnline reporting on the bigoted slurs.
At the time, Revd Dalrymple clapped back in a well-humoured Tweet to about 3,000 followers: “The thread that follows from this charming feedback accuses me of pride, narcissism, mental illness, being an idiot, not believing in God oh and having a top too tight that will distract men.
“How's your day going?”
Her post, which remains on the site today, has attracted some 1.4 likes and 453 comments at the time of writing.
“As that story ran, I was inundated with messages of support and a lot of people saying: ‘I didn’t know that I was allowed in a church with tattoos’,” she said.
“There is still a perception that not everyone is allowed in a church building - people of a certain class, or ethnicity or level of ability.
“So, although it started as a horrible experience, it ended up being a good opportunity for me to make more people aware that everyone is welcome here.”
Revd Dalrymple says her body art, consisting of a mixture of flowers, animals, women’s sexual organs and religious symbolism, “speaks of the Christian story”.
She first went under the needle aged 30 and has since been inked from wrist-to-shoulder on both arms.
In an interview at Canterbury Cathedral yesterday, the cleric pointed out a large feather on her right forearm, a reference to Psalms 91, explaining: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.”
She then explained how a design on her other arm highlights the importance of Mary, Mother of Jesus.
“This tattoo is about the incarnation,” added Revd Dalrymple.
“It touches on some iconography that often appears in Christian art - a red synonymous with Jesus very often, a white lily for Mary, the dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
“You can see the dove here is sitting on a fallopian tube, this is a uterus with a cross in the centre.
“Crucially for me it’s about the role of Mary in my faith, and in bringing Jesus to us - so it’s a Christmas tattoo, really.”