VATICAN CITY — Most of the stamps the Vatican issues each year celebrate saints, popes or the birth or death of some late great European painter or composer.
Now and then there is a commemorative stamp marking a United Nations or Europe-wide year dedicated to themes such as water, books, forests and even the postal van!
Rarely has the Vatican stamp and coin office issued what it did this year: celebrating the 125th anniversary of the birth of Charlie Chaplin, “whose work impacted more than fifty years of the history of film,” the office said.
Some of the only other recent stamps celebrating “modern” and more secular artists have included:
- a 2004 aerogram marking the anniversary of the birth of the 20th century Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali’
- stamps in 2003 celebrating the 19th century post-Impressionist painters Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin
- and a series in 2010 marking the birth of Anton Chekhov and death of Leo Tolstoy — two 19th century Russian writers
Sometimes the Vatican uses its collectors’ appeal for promoting important causes and raising funds for different initiatives, like when all proceeds from the sale of a 2004 stamp dedicated to children with AIDS were donated in the pope’s name to projects helping AIDS orphans.