VATICAN CITY—On Jan. 1 Europe begins using a single cash currency, and the Vatican's version of the euro will probably carry the image of John Paul II.
So said Amalia D'Alascio, assistant director of the Vatican Philatelic and Numismatic Office, in an interview with Vatican Radio.
Euro coins bearing the Pope¥s image would likely become collectors’ items, because of their limited production. Italy is producing the Vatican coins under contract.
What does your work consist of, from the philatelic point of view?
We select the philatelic program in several phases. The first is study: We examine the most significant events of the year, such as particularly important anniversaries for the Church, for art, or in history—issues of a particular relevance on the cultural and religious plane. We choose seven or eight every year on which to base our philatelic series.
The program is presented to the Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City, which discusses it and gives its approval. Then we begin to choose the artist who prepares the sketches, and they are again submitted for the approval of the pontifical commission. Following this, they are sent to the presses we have throughout the world, in France, England, the United States, Canada.
And, as regards your work in the numismatic field?
The course followed is similar. Topics of cultural interest are chosen and submitted for the approval of the pontifical commission. Then, sculptors are contacted, usually famous ones, like Veroi [or] Manfrini, who prepare the model, in this case in plaster, and present it for final approval. Finally, the plaster model is taken to the Italian mint for coinage of the currency.
An activity that makes one think immediately of collectors.
That's true; we have very many collectors throughout the world. We have close to 60,000 names on our bulletin's list. Lately, we have modernized, creating our own site on the Vatican Internet site, which has been very successful. This is proved by the great number of requests from all over the world.
Is there an especially famous piece, as the saying goes, that whets the appetite of the aficionados?
Yes, these are especially the stamps related to “vacant sees.” There are two or three that have notable economic value.
What is the reason for this?
Because rather limited editions were made, they are, consequently, difficult to find.
And in the field of coins?
In this case, the date of issue is important. The further back [you go], the more difficult they are to find. So, the coins of the first pontificates are the ones that obviously have the greater value.
With in a few months the new euro coins and bills will end up in the pockets of millions of Europeans. How is the Vatican preparing for this revolution?
We are also adjusting slowly because the Convention was recently signed. So, we also incorporate ourselves to the euro, which will probably have the Holy Father's image. The coins will be designed by Veroi.
Hence, it will be among the coins circulating in Europe.
Yes, the Vatican euro will also be circulating.