The Vatican has unveiled a new stamp issue which commemorates Pope Francis’ visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa in 2013 and the 150th anniversary of the Italian Coast Guard.
This initiative, made possible through the collaboration of the Vatican’s Philatelic and Numismatic Office and the Italian Coast Guard, was the subject of a press conference held at the Holy See Press Office this afternoon, which brought together many members of the Coast Guard, including their chief press officer, Captain Filippo Marini.
A source of pride for the institutions, they shared, is that stamp’s proceeds will go to the Holy Father for charity work.
The Italian Coast Guard are known for their work rescuing migrants in extreme conditions, especially those driven from their nations by war and persecution and who are now trying to cross the Mediterranean. The Holy Father met with with Italian Coast Guard members in February and said that he felt small compared to all that they face and do.
Captain Marini said that in 2014 alone, some 170,000 migrants have been rescued in numerous rescue operations. In addition to their Coast Guard units, Marini went on to laud the major humanitarian operation “Mare Nostrum,” which rescued a very significant number.
The briefing also underscored how big a priority dealing with immigration is nowadays, especially as Europe and the UN face the immigration emergency in the Mediterranean.
“The Coast Guard saves people at sea,” Captain Marini said, “We try to do it in the best way, with means, commitment, sacrifice and above all love for the lives of others.”
Reflecting on how to tackle this challenge, Marini noted the politicians are realizing this must be addressed and that this should lead to further action.
The stamps issue recalls the Pope’s trip to Lampedusa in 2013. Images include the dome of St. Peter’s, a Coast Guard patrol boat accompanying a barge adrift, migrant symbolism, along with St. John Paul II, recalling his visit to Gaeta, June 25, 1989, and Francis in his meeting with the commander of the Corps, Felicio Angrisano at the Vatican, Feb. 17, 2015. Ten thousand copies will be produced, and each will be sold for 5 euro as of May 19, 2015.