Vatican City Issues Special Stamps After Papal Resignation

Vatican City, Vatican stampsCall me old fashioned, but when I’m on the road there’s something special about writing a postcard, sticking on some local stamps and sending it to loved ones back home. Receiving mail from overseas is almost as much fun.

I especially like rare stamps from smaller or less frequently traveled countries. Sadly I couldn’t send any postcards from Somaliland because they don’t have a mail service. I was also disappointed that on my recent trip to Iraq we never stopped at a post office.

Luckily you don’t have to go so far to find strange and soon-to-be collectable stamps. The surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has forced Vatican City to issue a special set of stamps.

They are emblazoned with an angel holding the Arms of the Apostolic Camera and the words “Sede Vacante MMXIII” (“Vacant See 2013”). They come in four different denominations of 70 and 85 euro cents, 2 euros, and 2.50 euros.

Stamps for the vacant see are designed shortly after a new Pope takes office and are kept until he dies, to be used for the brief period before the next Pope is elected.

Stamp Magazine reports that since the Vatican started issuing stamps, the Vacant See issues have only been used for a total of 20 days. I suspect this means that franked (used) Vacant See stamps will later become pretty valuable owing to their rarity. So if you’re in Italy, head on over to that little country inside Rome and send out some postcards. Your friends and family will thank you for it a few years from now.

[Photo courtesy Vatican Philatelic and Numismatic Office]

Holy water may be blessed, but don’t carry it on the pope’s plane: The pope says so

A friend of mine told me this summer about how his small jar of apple butter was confiscated at the TSA security check. He was hoping to bring it from Minnesota back to Montana..

Another person recently told me that the snow globe she was bringing back as a souvenir from her vacation to California this summer was also confiscated by TSA. Unfortunately, she read the post about snow globes not being okay in a carry on after she lost her treasure.

Turns out, there is something else to think about when you pack. If you have holy water on you, even if it is blessed by the pope, better be safe and tuck it into your checked bag–particularly if you are traveling with the pope on his plane. Put it in your carry on and it might be confiscated.

Pope Benedict XVI, recognizing the hazards of holy water in a carry-on, is warning people that even the smallest amount could be a problem reports this Reuters article. Pope Benedict was specifically referring to people traveling with him to Lourdes, France from September 12-15.

People travel to Lourdes on a pilgrimage to see the spot where the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant girl in 1858. Picking up holy water as a souvenir is part of the occasion.

Like the pope, Air France has warned against bringing holy water onto the papal plane as well.

As for other airlines, other planes, and other occasions where you may be bringing holy water home with you, I’d pack it in a checked bag, or take your chances with a bottle if it’s no more than 3-ounces.

But, remember the apple butter and the snow globe and those half empty bottles of bottled water dumped into the trash by TSA. There’s no telling what might happen when you hoist that carry-on onto the conveyor belt that passes through an X-Ray machine.

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Pope souvenirs could be a bargain soon?Just wondering

The last few weeks have been a shopping bonanza in the U.S. for Pope Benedict XVI souvenirs. People have snapped up pope items that range from rosaries to T-shirts, mugs, key chains to postcards, including Pope on a rope soap and bobble-head dolls. The urge to take a piece of the papacy home with them has enticed some folks to spend hundreds of dollars, according to this article from the Washington Post.

Pope Benedict’s last U.S. appearance is today at JFK Airport in NYC where he is making a farewell address. (This is what is listed on the itinerary on the Vatican’s Web site.) I wonder if souvenir shop owners are looking at their shelves wondering if they over did with the stock, or did they guess right?

I also wonder if hawkers were outside Yankee Stadium today with Pope Benedict goods hanging from carts and spread out on blankets? He was there as well.

I imagine that, eventually, Pope Benedict items will reduce in price because people, who will be buying them, will be people who didn’t see him during his visit. They’ll just be browsing through a store.

That’s the problem with the souvenir business. Although, Pope Benedict XVI items have been hot sellers, it’s hard to judge just how much of something will sell once an event is over. What is a souvenir seller to do with the leftovers?

By the way, as cited in this Fox News article, according to Rev. Mark Morozowich, an associate dean at the Catholic University of America, bobble-head dolls of the Pope Benedict are fine. We have bobble-heads of sports figures, why not the pope?