A Brief History of Jesus Shirts

Paul Walker Paul Walker 13 November 2022 Follow
A Brief History of Jesus Shirts

What do you think of when you see a shirt with a picture of Jesus on it? For some, it might be a sign of religious devotion. For others, it might be a fashion statement. And still others might see it as kitschy tourist wear. But where did these shirts come from? Believe it or not, the history of Jesus shirts is somewhat contentious. 

There are a few different origin stories for Jesus shirts. The first posits that they were born out of countercultural initiatives in the 1960s and 1970s. At a time when young people were rebelling against authority and mainstream culture, some saw fit to subvert traditional images by printing them on T-shirts. One early example is the "Jesus Saves" shirt designed by Roderick Kiracofe in 1971. This shirt featured a image of Jesus Christ with the words "Jesus Saves" superimposed over it in bright red letters. 

Another origin story claims that Jesus shirts began as souvenirs for pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. These shirts typically featured more religious imagery, such as crosses or prayers, and were sold near Christian sites as mementos of people's visits. This theory is supported by the fact that many of the earliestJesus shirts were sold in Jerusalem and other places with high concentrations of Christian tourists. 

No matter their origins, there's no denying that Jesus shirts have become big business. Millions are sold every year, and they can be found in tourist traps and souvenir shops around the world. Whether you see them as art, fashion, or kitsch, there's no denying that they're here to stay. 


The next time you see someone wearing a JesusShirts.net, take a moment to consider its history. These shirts have been around for decades and have passed through many hands before ending up on the shelves of your local souvenir shop. Whether you find them tacky or devotional, there's no denying that they're part of our shared cultural history.


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