Andorra (Spanish Administration)
08 November 2019
Issue date: 08/11/2019
Printing Process: Calcografía
Paper: Estucado, engomado, fosforescente mate
Size of stamp: 28,8 x 40,9 mm
Sheet effects: 25
Postal value of the stamps: 0,60 €
Print run: 60.000
ANDORRA. CHRISTMAS 2019 Cherubs
A cherub holding a bunch of grapes, protruding from the twisted folds of one of the Solomonic columns of the altarpiece of San Juan Bautista, is the detail selected to illustrate the Principality’s annual Christmas issue. The stamp has been produced using the chalcographic printing technique, which gives the image the texture and beauty that is so characteristic of this type of printing.
The altarpiece forms part of the set of two altarpieces, the second dedicated to Santa Lucía, which adorn the church of Sant Esteve in Andorra La Vella. Dating back to around the 11th and 12th centuries, the parish church is one of the oldest in the Principality, having undergone various modifications throughout its history, the last one being in the 20th century.
The altarpiece dedicated to San Juan Bautista (Saint John the Baptist) decorates the front of the chapel. It is a baroque altarpiece, gilded in 1707, structured on two levels and three panels. The main carvings are devoted to Saint John the Baptist, on the lower section, and the Virgin of Montserrat, on the upper part. Both sculptures are flanked by the smaller carvings of San Marcos and San Roque, on the lower level and San Pedro and San Francisco Javier, on the upper section.
In its entirety, it is an outstanding work of art, both due its architectural design and delicate ornamentation as well as the beauty of the colours and the quality of the gilding. The columns separating the panels are profusely decorated, with a predominance of angels, grapevines and other symbolic elements.
The symbolism of Saint John the Baptist revolves around the sacrament of baptism, and the baptism of Jesus Christ on the Jordan River. He is mentioned in the four canonical gospels as the son of the priest Zechariah and Isabel, cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Isabel could not have children, but the archangel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and told him they would have a son, and God wanted them to name him Jesus. The gospel relates that Herod Antipas ordered him to be beheaded at the request of his step-daughter Salome, whom he wanted to marry.