-- Catholic News Agency
Vatican Post Office Sells Over 150k Vacant See Sets
VATICAN CITY, March 7 (CNA/EWTN News) .- The Vatican is now selling special stamps and envelopes that are made only when there is no Pope.
"They are very important stamps because they are issued only when the Pope is not in his place," said Mauro Olivieri, the head of the Vatican's post office.
In a March 7 interview with CNA, Olivieri explained why the post office has already sold over 150,000 sets of Sede Vacante stamps.
"The value is very high for stamp collectors and it's not just an economical value, but they're more valuable because it symbolizes a very particular period for the Catholic Church," he said.
In addition to official declarations and statements, the stamps are the "official way" the Vatican "says that the Holy See is vacant," he stated.
People can buy the stamps just as they are, or with a red post office cancellation mark on them.
The cancellation mark carries the date of the beginning of the vacant see, which was March 1. Olivieri said the stamps communicate that there is no Pope to those who receive the mail, while the cancellation mark placed on the stamps shows them that the State is still running.
The Sede Vacante stamps cost the same amount as regular Vatican postal stamps do, since their value is the same.
They come in a series of four types, each with a different value.
The first kind has a light green background and is worth 0.70 euro, which can be used for mail sent within Italy. Letters sent to other European countries require a pale blue background and cost 0.85 euro. Anyone who wants to get mail to Asia, Africa and the Americas will need a 2 euro stamp with a grey background, while the 2.50 euro stamps with a light yellow background are necessary for reaching Oceania.
The image on the stamps depicts an angel holding an umbrella and a set of crossed keys, the coat of arms for the Holy See during the Sede Vacante.
The post office is also selling envelopes, which include the stamps and the cancellation mark.
"We hope to sell a lot of them, but it depends how long the Vacant See will be," Olivieri said.
"So we're in the hands of the cardinals because as soon as they elect a new Pope we will not sell the stamps anymore for postal use," he added.
The Vatican City State is also issuing two kinds of coins for the Sede Vacante period.
A 2 euro coin which can be used in Europe is being made. In addition, a 5 euro silver coin and a 10 euro gold coin will be produced.
The normal 2 euro coin will have the normal face for each country on one side and the opposite side will include the coat of arms of the camerlengo, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and the surmounted the symbol of the Apostolic Chamber.
With the 5 and 10 euro coins, the Vatican is allowed to design both faces.
One side will have the coat of arms of the Apostolic Chamber and the camerlengo, the same as the 2 euro face. The other face will include a dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit with the Latin words "Veni Sancte Spiritus," (Come Holy Spirit), invoking his help as the cardinals chose the new Pope.
For the latest information on the stamps and coins, please visit: http://www.vaticanstate.va/
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