Two New Vatican Postage Stamps

Celebrate St Francis de Sales, Mark 500th Anniversary Reformation

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

The Vatican will issue two new postage stamps on November 23, 2017, the Holy See Press Office announced October 31, 2017.

A 2.55-euro stamp celebrates the 450th Anniversary of the birth of Saint Francis de Sales.  A 1.00-euro stamp marks the October 31, 2017, 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Saint Francis de Sales was born in the French border town of Thorens-Glières on August 21, 1567, of an ancient and noble heritage At a young age, Francis de Sales showed interest in theology during his formative years of study that soon led him to a vocation to the priesthood. He carried out his ministry with the firm desire to safeguard the Church of Rome from the reform of Calvin.

Saint Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church, is one of the fathers of modern spirituality and influenced the most important figures of the 1600s in Europe. He brought back many faithful separated from the Catholic Church by speaking about the love of God. Many religious congregations took inspiration from him, including the Salesian Family founded by Saint John Bosco, who chose him as patron of his efforts, both because he was one of the most venerated Saints in the Piedmont region of Italy, and because he incarnated the principles of loving kindness, optimism and Christian humanism that became the foundation of the teaching methods of don Bosco. Francis de Sales was beatified in 1662, and canonized by Pope Alexander VII just three years later. Marco Ventura portrays him in the style of an antique stained glass window, with his pen in hand, since he is patron of journalists and writers.

© Libreria Editrice VaticanIt was October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther, an Augustinian friar and theologian, put up his 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg. Last year, on the occasion of his journey to Sweden for the Joint Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration of the Reformation, Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to God for the opportunity to remember such an important event “with a renewed spirit and in the recognition that Christian unity is a priority, because we realize that much more unites us than separates us.”

A joint statement that was signed during the visit noted in the past “that Lutherans and Catholics have wounded the visible unity of the Church. Theological differences were accompanied by prejudice and conflicts, and religion was instrumentalized for political ends. Our common faith in Jesus Christ and our baptism demand of us a daily conversion, by which we cast off the historical disagreements and conflicts that impede the ministry of reconciliation.”

“All of us are well aware”, Pope Francis affirmed on another occasion, “that the past cannot be changed. Yet today…it is possible to engage in a purification of memory”, without “resentment” that “distorts”.

The postage stamp issued by the Philatelic Office for the occasion depicts in the foreground Jesus crucified and in the background a golden and timeless view of the city of Wittenberg. With a penitential disposition, kneeling respectively on the left and right of the cross, Martin Luther holds the Bible, source and destination of his doctrine, while Philipp Melanchthon, theologian and friend of Martin Luther, one of the main protagonists of the reform, holds in hand the Augsburg Confession (Confessio Augustana), the first official public presentation of the principles of Protestantism written by him.

The Vatican’s Philatelic and Numismatic Office is responsible for issuing Vatican postal stamps and euro coins.  The office was established in 1929, issuing its first stamps that year featuring the image of Pope Pius XI.

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