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Diane Montagna

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Vatican announces stamp of Martin Luther on 500th anniversary of Reformation

Diane Montagna
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Vatican stamp of Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon at the foot of the Cross.
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ROME, October 31, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Vatican today announced it will be issuing a special postage stamp depicting Luther at the foot of the Cross, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

The 1.00 euro postage stamp issued by the Holy See’s Philatelic Office depicts in the foreground Jesus Crucified, and in the background “a golden and timeless view of the city of Wittenberg,” the Vatican’s description read. (The official Vatican notice about the stamp is available here.)

It continued: “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.”

Exactly one year ago today, on October 31, 2016, Pope Francis journeyed to Sweden for the Joint Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration of the Reformation, and to celebrate Mass with Swedish Catholics on the November 1 Solemnity of All Saints.

The Holy See Press Office announced in the same communique that it will also be issuing a more valuable 2.55 euro special stamp to mark the 450th anniversary of the birth of St. Francis de Sales.

“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,” the Vatican description states.

“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,” it continues.

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,” it reads.

Francis de Sales was beatified in 1662 and canonized by Pope Alexander VII just three years later. The artist responsible for the stamp, Marco Ventura, portrays St. Francis de Sales in the style of an antique stained glass window, with pen in hand, as he is the patron saint of journalists and writers.

Both stamps will be available beginning November 23, 2017.

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