Euro with Papal Image Enters Circulation on Jan. 1

Single Currency Is Step Toward a Europe of Solidarity, Vatican Says

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 14, 2001 ( Beginning Jan. 1, euros with John Paul II´s image will begin to circulate in Europe.

Thanks to an agreement announced by the Council of Ministers of the European Union on Dec. 31, 1998, Vatican City will no longer use the Italian lira after the New Year.

The Vatican´s Philatelic and Numismatic Office revealed that the new Vatican currency was coined by Italian sculptor Guido Veroi. One side of the Vatican coin will be like that of the rest of the European countries, but the other will have the Pope´s image, facing left.

Vatican euros will not include bills, as the agreements between Italy and the Vatican state, adopted when the Vatican lira came into circulation in 1929, did not foresee this possibility.

The decision to imprint the bas-relief of the Pontiff´s image on European coins was adopted according to the same criterion that allows European monarchies to coin money with their sovereigns´ image.

Together with the Vatican, the principality of Monaco and the republic of San Marino have also established agreements with European authorities to coin special versions of the euro.

According to the agreement, the Vatican will be able to coin a maximum of 670,000 euros a year. The emission will be the responsibility of the «Casa della Moneta» of the Italian state.

There will be a total of eight coins valued at 1, 2, 4, 10, 50 cents of the euro, and coins of 1 and 2 euros.

A euro is currently worth about 90 cents in U.S. currency.

Bishop Celestino Migliore, Vatican undersecretary for relations with states, told Vatican Radio: «For all intents and purposes, Vatican City is a state. Hence, not having its own monetary system, it has always had to adhere to a monetary area, which up until now was that of Italy.»

«In the past this relation was stipulated in other monetary conventions,» he said. «Beginning Jan. 1, 1999, Italy transferred its monetary authority to the European Community, so that the commitments of the last convention could no longer be applied. Therefore, a new negotiation was undertaken, which extended to the other members.»

Bishop Migliore clarified that nothing will change for the Vatican, with the exception of the name of its currency.

The convention says «that Vatican City State has the right to use the euro as its own official currency, that Vatican City State will coin currency in euros and commits itself to apply in its territory the Community norms that refer to bills and coins in euros,» he said.

When Italy and the Vatican signed the last necessary agreements last Dec. 29, the decision was taken by the Vatican «to promote a Europe of solidarity through monetary union,» explained Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, secretary for relations with states.

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