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Vatican unveils stamp with Pope holding Ukrainian flag

Stamp showing Pope Francis holding a Ukrainian flag during a general audience in April 2022. The flag came from the city of Bucha where many civilians died.

Courtesy of Vatican postal and philatelic service

Isabella H. de Carvalho - I.Media - published on 05/05/23

The Vatican’s postal services will issue two stamps: one dedicated to promoting peace and solidarity with Ukraine and one to celebrate the upcoming World Youth Day.

The Vatican’s postal and philatelic service will issue three new stamps on May 16, 2023, including one featuring a photo of Pope Francis in April 2022 holding a Ukrainian flag that came from the city of Bucha.

There will also be a stamp dedicated to the World Youth Day in Lisbon, scheduled for August 1 to 6.

Stamp showing Pope Francis holding a Ukrainian flag during a general audience in April 2022. The flag came from the city of Bucha where many civilians died.

This flag comes from “that war-torn city”

At the end of the general audience on April 6, 2022, almost two months after the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Pope Francis unfurled a yellow and blue flag that had come from Bucha. This Ukrainian city had been through a massacre during the month of March, while it was occupied by the Russian army. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) estimates that between 73 and 178 civilians were killed in that period.

“This flag comes from the war, precisely from that war-torn city, Bucha,” said the pontiff during the audience, while denouncing the “horrendous cruelty.”

“They are victims whose innocent blood cries to Heaven and implores: put an end to this war!” he said, in front of hundreds of faithful gathered in the Paul VI Audience Hall of the Vatican.

A stamp to promote peace

The photo of the Pope with this battered flag was shared across the world. It is precisely this moment that the Vatican postal service chose in order to illustrate the Argentine pontiff’s solidarity with “the martyred Ukraine,” an expression he has used almost weekly since the war began. On the new stamp, there is a caption that says: “Alongside the Ukrainians, a noble and martyred people.”

The stamp is issued as part of an initiative called EUROPA, promoted by the association PostEurop, which represents 55 postal services on the continent. Since 1956, the Brussels-based organization has proposed a theme each year for national postal services to produce certain stamps. The 2023 theme, “PEACE – the highest value of humanity,” was chosen to “show solidarity with Ukraine” and promote peace, explains the PostEurop website.

The other stamp issued by the Vatican as part of the EUROPA series depicts the “Knot of Peace,” a work that won a contest organized by PostEurop to select the best logo illustrating the 2023 theme. Both stamps are scheduled for release on May 16.

There will be 135,000 copies printed of the stamp featuring Pope Francis holding the Ukrainian glad. It will cost 0.10 euro (around $0.11). As well, 44,000 copies will be printed of the stamp with the “Knot of Peace” and they will cost 1.25 euros each (around $1.37) 

Stamp showing the logo of the EUROPA stamp initiative organized by the PostEurop association

A stamp looking towards the WYD in Lisbon

On May 16, the Vatican postal and philatelic services will also be issuing a new stamp to celebrate World Youth Day, which will be held in Lisbon from August 1 to 6. The stamp shows Pope Francis leading a group of young people up the “Monument of Discoveries” (Padrão dos Descobrimentos), which is a large sculpture of a sailboat situated near the river Tagus that runs through Lisbon. The monument was built in 1960 and celebrates the Portuguese age of discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries. 

“In the stamp Pope Francis guides young people and the Church, represented by Peter’s boat, to the discovery of ‘this change of epoch,’” the statement issued by the Vatican post office explains. The Pontiff directs the young people so that they don’t “tacitly resign themselves to the habit of just sailing by sight” to the point that they do not see the “reality of the port that awaits them.” 

The stamp will cost 3.10 euros (around $3.41) and 45,000 copies will be printed. 

A stamp issued by the Vatican postal and philatelic service in light of the 2023 World Youth Day in Lisbon
Courtesy of Vatican postal and philatelic service

Pope FrancisUkraineVaticanWorld Youth Day
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