Vatican stamps mark Pope Benedict's birthday, Fatima apparitions


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican stamp and coin office has
big plans for early May: the release of stamps marking retired Pope Benedict
XVI’s 90th birthday and important
events in the life of the church spanning almost 2,000 years.

The Philatelic and Numismatic Office said the stamp sheet
celebrating Pope Benedict’s April 16 birthday was designed to “offer our
affectionate tribute to him.”

Designed by the artist Daniela Longo, the sheet features a
drawing of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict embracing, while the actual stamps
show the retired pope praying his rosary.

Separate 95 euro-cent stamps will be released to mark the
1,950th anniversary of the martyrdoms in the year 67 of Sts. Peter and Paul,
founders of the church in Rome.

Information announcing the stamps’ release noted,
“Peter was crucified upside down and Paul decapitated, a distinction
reserved to Roman citizens.”

The stamps feature close-ups of their faces and symbols
associated with them. For St. Peter, a rooster as a reminder of his denying Jesus
before it crowed twice, but also two keys recalling Jesus’ words to St.
Peter, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” For St. Paul, the stamp
shows the traditional symbols associated with him — the book and the sword.

Another stamp, accompanied by a postcard, set for release
May 4 marks the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Mary to the three
shepherd children in Fatima May 13, 1917.

The stamp and postcard feature paintings by Stefano Morri of
Mary, “clothed in white, radiating light, wearing a veil with a gold border
covering her head and shoulders,” which is how the children had described
her. In front of Mary are the three children in prayer.

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