Stamps: The Vatican’s Tiny Evangelizers

by William van Ornum

Every month, the Vatican issues a small group of stamps, whose themes range from history to art and biography — and of course, Catholic themes and hagiography.

After Ronald Reagan said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” in 1987, it took two years for tens of thousands of Berliners to help Mr. Gorbachev along. A new Vatican stamp commemorates this 25th anniversary, which comes this November:

Although Americans might expect a photo of an American president telling a Russian leader to “tear down this wall,” the artist took a different approach. The stamp depicts a photo of those historic days, taken by photographer Michael-Reiner Ernst, of an older man chipping away with a small chisel at a small area of the wall. Graffiti in German is scrawled across it. Beginning in 1990, ordinary Berliners began removing 45,000 pieces of the wall. Perhaps the stamp calls to mind the cumulative power of individuals who are committed to truth and freedom, and the role of strength and sacrifice in bolstering our convictions.

The stamp:

Philatelists will also learn in this August 2014 trove that composer Richard Strauss, the sesquicentennial of whose birth falls this past month, fought and won copyrights for musicians (good to know on Labor Day), and that 400 years ago St. Camillus de Lellis founded a religious order to care for the sick. They take a fourth vow, alongside the typical three others of religious orders: to provide corporeal and physical assistance even at the risk of their own lives. Even lay people may apply, and they are always open to new vocations.

Learn this, and more, here.

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