VATICAN CITY — The first gift Pope Benedict XVI received at the end of his weekly general audience today was a framed copy of the two stamp sheets and souvenir booklets issued by the Israel Philatelic Service of Israel Post.
The first sheet and booklet, issued to welcome the pope to Israel for his May 11-15 visit, featured photographs of the Christian holy sites and relevant biblical texts. The 10,000 sets published have sold out.
The second sheet and booklet feature photographs of the pope from his Holy Land pilgrimage along with quotes from each speech he gave in Israel.
Mordechay Lewy, the Israeli ambassador to the Vatican, introduced the pope to the president and CEO of Israel Post, the director of the Israel Philatelic Service, and Peter Jennings, a dedicated stamp collector and Catholic public affairs expert, who wrote the text for both booklets.
Yaron Razon, director of the Israeli philatelic service, said he is working with the Vatican Numismatic and Philatelic Office to plan a joint stamp issue commemorating the visit. It should be ready for purchase in 2010.