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20 November 2020

Modern Christmas — The Peace Light of Bethlehem

(joint issue with Vatican City)

Austria: Modern Christmas – The Peace Light of Bethlehem, 20 November 2020. Images from Colnect.

Technical Specifications:

Issued on: 2020-11-20
Size: 110 x 95 mm
Colors: Multicolor
Format: Souvenir Sheet
Perforation: comb13¼ x 14
Printing: Offset lithography
Gum: Ordinary
Denomination: 185 ct
Print run: 260,000
Design: Kirsten Lubach
Joint issue with Vatican City

The Peace Light of Bethlehem is a program inaugurated in Austria in 1987 as part of a charitable relief mission for handicapped children and people in need. It has gone to more than 20 countries in Europe, as well as the Americas.

Since Austria joined the European Union (1995), the Austrian Member of the European Parliament Paul Rübig initiated the tradition to bring the Peace Light of Bethlehem to Strasbourg to hand the flame over to the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the city itself.

In 2007 a delegation of Guides and Scouts from Austria, Germany, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian National Authority together lit the Peace Light in Bethlehem. Also in 2005 the International Commissioner of Austria Thomas Ertlthaler passed the Peace Light to a delegation of Guides and Scouts from the Palestinian National Authority under the leadership of Saed Shomali, the International Commissioner of the Palestinian Scout Association.

85c Pope Franciscus

Pope Francis (LatinFranciscusItalianFrancesco; Spanish: Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 17 December 1936) is, as the bishop of Rome, the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State. Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first pope from outside Europe since the Syrian Gregory III, who reigned in the 8th century.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a young man Bergoglio worked for a time as a bouncer and a janitor before getting training as a chemist, and working as a technician in a food science laboratory. After a recovering from a severe illness, he was inspired to join the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1958. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969, and from 1973 to 1979 was Argentina’s provincial superior of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He became the archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and was created a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. He led the Argentine Church during the December 2001 riots in Argentina. The administrations of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner considered him a political rival. Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on 28 February 2013, a papal conclave elected Bergoglio as his successor on 13 March. He chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. Throughout his public life, Pope Francis has been noted for his humility, emphasis on God’s mercy, international visibility as pope, concern for the poor and commitment to interreligious dialogue. He is credited with having a less formal approach to the papacy than his predecessors, for instance choosing to reside in the Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse rather than in the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace used by previous popes.

Francis maintains the traditional views of the Church regarding abortion, clerical celibacy, and the ordination of women, but has initiated dialogue on the possibility of deaconesses and has made women full members of dicasteries in the Roman curia. He maintains that the Church should be more open and welcoming for members of the LGBT community, and favors legal recognition of same-sex couples. Francis is an outspoken critic of unbridled capitalism and free market economics, consumerism, and overdevelopment, and advocates taking action on climate change, a focus of his papacy with the promulgation of Laudato si’. In international diplomacy, he helped to temporarily restore full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba and supported the cause of refugees during the European and Central American migrant crises. Since 2018, he has been a heavily vocal opponent of neo-nationalism. He has faced criticism from theological conservatives on many questions, including admitting civilly divorced and remarried Catholics to communion with the publication of Amoris laetitia.

100c Jesus Christ (inspired by a Paiting of Guido Reni)

Guido Reni (4 November 1575 – 18 August 1642) was an Italian painter of the Baroque period, although his works showed a classical manner, similar to Simon Vouet, Nicholas Poussin, and Philippe de Champaigne. He painted primarily religious works, but also mythological and allegorical subjects. Active in Rome, Naples, and his native Bologna, he became the dominant figure in the Bolognese School that emerged under the influence of the Carracci.

Reni was the most famous Italian artist of his generation. Through his many pupils, he had wide-ranging influence on later Baroque. In the center of Bologna he established two studios, teeming with nearly 200 pupils. His most distinguished pupil was Simone Cantarini, named Il Pesarese, who painted the portrait of his master now in the Bolognese Gallery. Reni’s other Bolognese pupils included Antonio Randa (early on in his career considered the best pupil of Reni, until he tried to kill his master), Vincenzo Gotti, Emilio Savonanzi, Sebastiano Brunetti, Tommaso Campana, Domenico Maria Canuti, Bartolomeo Marescotti, Giovanni Maria Tamburino, and Pietro Gallinari (Pierino del Signor Guido).

Other artists who trained under Reni include Antonio Buonfanti (il Torricello), Antonio Giarola (Cavalier Coppa), Giovanni Battista Michelini, Guido Cagnacci, Giovanni Boulanger of Troyes, Paolo Biancucci of Lucca, Pietro Ricci or Righi of Lucca, Pietro Lauri Monsu, Giacomo Semenza,[ Gioseffo and Giovanni Stefano Danedi, Giovanni Giacomo Manno, Carlo Cittadini of Milan, Luigi Scaramuccia, Bernardo Cerva, Francesco Costanzo Cattaneo of Ferrara, Francesco Gessi, and Marco Bandinelli.

Beyond Italy, Reni’s influence was important in the style of many Spanish Baroque artists, such as Jusepe de Ribera and Murillo. But his work was particularly appreciated in France — Stendhal believed Reni must have had “a French soul” — and influenced generations of French artists such as Le Sueur, Le Brun, Vien, and Greuze; as well as on later French Neoclassic painters. In the 19th century, Reni’s reputation declined as a result of changing taste — epitomized by John Ruskin’s censorious judgment that the artist’s work was sentimental and false. A revival of interest in Reni has occurred since 1954, when an important retrospective exhibition of his work was mounted in Bologna.

Saint Joseph and the Christ Child by Guido Reni (1575–1642). Oil on canvas, 1640. Current location: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas.

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