01 September 2020
Christmas 2020 — Art of Anna Henry
Set of 4 values: 50p, 60p, 80p, £1.30
Issued on: 2020-09-01
Printing: Offset lithography
50p – The Annunciation:
The Annunciation (from Latin annuntiatio), also referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Annunciation of Our Lady, or the Annunciation of the Lord, is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Jewish messiah and Son of God, marking His Incarnation. Gabriel told Mary to name her son Jesus, meaning “YHWH is salvation”.
According to Luke 1:26, the Annunciation occurred “in the sixth month” of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist. Many Christians observe this event with the Feast of the Annunciation on 25 March, an approximation of the northern vernal equinox nine full months before Christmas, the ceremonial birthday of Jesus. The Annunciation is a key topic in Christian art in general, as well as in Marian art in the Catholic Church, having been especially prominent during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. A work of art depicting the Annunciation is sometimes itself called an Annunciation.
60p – Infant Christ in the Manger
It is a common saying at Christmastime that Jesus Christ was “born in a manger.” Of course, it wasn’t possible for Him to actually be born in the manger, but that’s where Mary laid Him after His birth (Luke 2:7). Although we are not sure of the exact location of where Jesus was born, we do know that it was near Bethlehem and that there was a manger, or feeding trough, there.
God promised the Savior’s virgin birth immediately after mankind’s first sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15). Hundreds of years later, the prophet Micah foretold the birth of Christ in the small town of Bethlehem: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2). This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus’ earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, were called to Bethlehem for a census of the entire Roman territory (Luke 2:1–5). While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Jesus to be born (Luke 2:6).
Because of the crowds that had come to Bethlehem, there was no room at the inn for Mary and Joseph (Luke 2:7). While tradition says that the inn was a sort of hotel, we don’t know that for sure. In fact, the Greek word translated “inn” (kataluma) could be translated “guest room.” This fact has led some to believe that Jesus may not have been born in a stable or barn, but in a house with a lower floor serving as a nighttime shelter for the families’ animals. If that were the case, it wouldn’t be surprising to find a manger located in that area of the house. When Luke states that there was no room in the kataluma, he could mean there was no room on the upper level, which would have been full of other people sleeping.
In any case, Jesus was born at night, in some sort of keeping-place for animals. After Jesus was delivered, Mary His mother wrapped Him in cloths and laid Him in a manger (Luke 2:7). Later that same night, shepherds from nearby fields found Him just as the angels told them they would (Luke 2:10–12).
So, why was the Savior and King born in a place where animals were kept? And why was He then laid in the animals’ food trough? Surely, God’s Son deserved a high-profile birth in the most elegant of surroundings. But, instead, God’s own Son made His appearance on earth in the lowliest of circumstances. This humble birth conveys an amazing message to creation: the transcendent God condescended to come to us. Instead of coming to earth as a pampered, privileged ruler, Jesus was born in meekness, as one of us. He is approachable, accessible, available—no palace gates bar the way to Him; no ring of guards prevents our approach. The King of kings came humbly, and His first bed was a manger.
80p – Shepherds and Star of Bethlehem
The Star of Bethlehem, or Christmas Star, appears in the nativity story of the Gospel of Matthew where “wise men from the East” (Magi) are inspired by the star to travel to Jerusalem. There, they meet King Herod of Judea, and ask him:
Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.
Herod calls together his scribes and priests who, quoting a verse from the Book of Micah, interpret it as a prophecy that the Jewish Messiah would be born in Bethlehem to the south of Jerusalem. Secretly intending to find and kill the Messiah in order to preserve his own kingship, Herod invites the wise men to return to him on their way home.
The star leads them to Jesus’ Bethlehem birthplace, where they worship him and give him gifts. The wise men are then given a divine warning not to return to Herod, so they return home by a different route.
Many Christians believe the star was a miraculous sign. Some theologians claimed that the star fulfilled a prophecy, known as the Star Prophecy. Astronomers have made several attempts to link the star to unusual celestial events, such as a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn or Jupiter and Venus, a comet, or a supernova.
Some modern scholars do not consider the story to be describing a historical event but a pious fiction created by the author of the Gospel of Matthew.
The subject is a favorite at planetarium shows during the Christmas season. However, most ancient sources and Church tradition generally indicate that the wise men visited Bethlehem sometime after Jesus’ birth. The visit is traditionally celebrated on Epiphany (January 6) in western Christianity.
Matthew’s account describes Jesus with the broader Greek word παιδίον (paidion), which can mean either “infant” or “child” rather than the more specific word for infant, βρέφος (bréphos). This possibly implies that some time has passed since the birth. However, the word παιδίον (paidíon) is also used in Luke’s Gospel specifically concerning Jesus’ birth and his later presentation at the temple. Herod I has all male Hebrew babies in the area up to age two killed in the Massacre of the Innocents.
£1.30 – The Three Wise Men
The biblical Magi, also referred to as the (Three) Wise Men or (Three) Kings, were distinguished foreigners in the Gospel of Matthew and Christian tradition. They are said to have visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They are regular figures in traditional accounts of the nativity celebrations of Christmas and are an important part of Christian tradition.
Matthew is the only one of the four canonical gospels to mention the Magi. Matthew reports that they came “from the east” to worship the “king of the Jews”. The gospel never mentions the number of Magi, but most western Christian denominations have traditionally assumed them to have been three in number, based on the statement that they brought three gifts. In Eastern Christianity, especially the Syriac churches, the Magi often number twelve. Their identification as kings in later Christian writings is probably linked to Isaiah 60:1–6, which refers to “kings [coming] to the brightness of your dawn” bearing “gold and frankincense”. Further identification of the magi with kings may be due to Psalm 72:11, “May all kings fall down before him”.
First Day Cover:
Saint Helena is a British Overseas Territory located in the South Atlantic Ocean. It consists of a remote volcanic tropical island lying some 1,950 kilometres (1,210 mi) west of the coast of southwestern Africa, and 4,000 kilometres (2,500 mi) east of Rio de Janeiro on the South American coast. It is one of three constituent parts of the British Overseas Territories of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.
Saint Helena measures about 16 by 8 kilometres (10 by 5 mi) and has a population of 4,534 (2016 census). It was named after Saint Helena of Constantinople. It is one of the most isolated islands in the world and was uninhabited when discovered by the Portuguese in 1502. It was an important stopover for ships sailing to Europe from Asia and Southern Africa for centuries. Saint Helena is the United Kingdom’s second-oldest overseas territory after Bermuda.
The first stamp of St Helena was issued on 1 January 1856. It was a 6d blue imperforate stamp portraying Queen Victoria. From 1863 to 1880, this stamp was issued in various colors, perforated and overprinted for each value from 1d to 5s. This design continued to be used until 1884, when a new set of Victorian key types was issued for the colony.
The first Queen Elizabeth issue was for the 1953 Coronation, followed by a pictorial definitive issued 1 month later. Issues were mainly commemorative or omnibus. On 12 October 1961, four Tristan da Cunha stamps were overprinted “ST. HELENA/Tristan Relief” with a surcharge. Only 454 sets were sold, mainly to tourists from a visiting cruise liner. This set was withdrawn on 19 October and is the most expensive set of St. Helena. St. Helena issues commemorative stamps regularly and still takes part in Crown Agents omnibus issues.
From the St. Helena Post Office Philatelic Bureau website:
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