Photo credit: Danielle Peterson/Statesman Journal
With tattoos on his neck, arms, and hands, Brother Andre Love doesn’t look like your typical Benedictine monk. But for the last six years the former tattoo artist has been a member of the order at Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon, where he is an iconographer and curator of the Abbey’s art collection. The Statesman Journal recently profiled Brother Andre Love and his incredible journey to the monastic life.
Six years ago, Mount Angel Abbey’s serene hilltop campus shook, as leather-clad Bobby Love rolled in on his motorcycle. Love removed his helmet revealing pierced ears and a mop of dreadlocks. With tattoos on his hands, arms and neck, he looked like an extra on “Sons of Anarchy” not a someone attending a retreat for those who might become Catholic monks.
Love knew from a young age that he wanted to devote his life to being an artist. After dropping out of high school and serving in the army, he discovered he could make $100 an hour as a tattoo artist, and developed a reputation as a tattoo artist in New York, New Orleans, Seattle and Austin. Despite having friends and material comfort, Love was still unhappy. He told the Statesman Journal:
“Everything said I should be happy, but I felt very alone and adrift. I looked at myself and realized that I had become a product,” Love said. “I was doing art not as personal expression but for what the kids want, what the kids would shell out the coin for.”
It had become about money, brand and ego. It had become about drugs and booze. He’d left his family and divorced three times.
“I had no clue what love was. I had no clue how to love or how to let other people love me and that’s why I was miserable,” Love said.
He admitted being an addict.
“The addiction was only a symptom of a greater problem … spiritual bankruptcy,” Love said. “I came to the realization that I need God. I needed to be a whole person in the sense that it’s not just about the material or the physical, but there was a whole spiritual dynamic that I had completely ignored.”