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Mother Teresa and Other Saints on Stamps
By Angelo Stagnaro
[Editor's Note: The original version of this story stated that Annie Laurie Gaylor and other atheists have “resolutely and selfishly refused to help anyone.” This is untrue, as demonstrated by the Freedom From Religion Foundation's commendable support of Doctors Without Borders, the World Food Program and other charitable organizations. The Register regrets the error.]
I recall interviewing David Silverman of American Atheists, Inc. over the kerfuffle of their own making when the U.S. Postal Service honored Bl. Mother Teresa with a commemorative stamp in 2010. Silverman and AA insisted, without a moment of intelligent thought, that she wasn't "worthy" of being thusly depicted. He cited the USPS’s Stamp Subject Selection Criteria: "individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings."
I take it as a badge of honor to hear people out even when every fiber of my rational being reacts to their bad logic, lack of facts, intentional ignorance, ahistoricity, pseudoscience or lack of compassion. Perhaps, I would think to myself, there's more to the story than I had originally thought and, if I only walked in the other man's shoes, I could get past the superficial emotionalism and thus have a meeting of souls.
However, reason is lost on all fundamentalists and, especially, fundamentalist atheists.
Silverman was unrepentantly ignorant and, to be frank, tried to pull a fast one on me.
"Mother Teresa's not even a US citizen!"
Insecure people, desperate to win an argument and appear intelligent and knowing full well that they are bereft of the facts and armed with nothing more than gossip, will easily lie to secure those ends.
I reminded Silverman, even though he obviously already knew, that Mother Teresa was, in fact awarded American citizenship a year before she died.
When he wound down from his self-righteous jeremiad about why a full one-quarter-of-one-percent of Americans think Mother Teresa is "evil," I asked him who he thought would be a better subject for a US stamp.
Without a moment's hesitation that a person unaffected by stifling, self-blind pride would have given, he piped up saying, "Well! I think Madalyn Murray O'Hair would be a much better choice!"
He referred, of course, to the founder of American Atheists, Inc. and professional, self-serving vulgarian.
I corrected him saying that Madalyn wasn't an American citizen. At that, he nearly busted a gasket.
"Of course she was an American citizen!" he fumed.
"I'm sorry. I apologize," I said. "I presumed the Soviets didn't return her passport when she gave up her US citizenship at their embassy in Paris in 1960."
Suffice it to say that what Silverman said in response to my coup-de-Catholic-grâce is unprintable.
That's why I love logic and history―when you have a correct understanding of both, ignorant, self-righteous, undereducated charlatans can't fool you into swallowing their tripe.
I think I had made my point to Silverman. I didn't need to mention all of the adulterous affairs that Madalyn had engaged in or all the times she bragged to her children about the plot of the pornographic film she saw that day or the fact Madalyn defrauded American Atheists, Inc. and several other atheist organizations of many hundreds of thousands of dollars and her plans to abscond with her son and granddaughter to New Zealand. And she would have gotten away with it had she not been kidnapped by one of her atheist employees and murdered―he had tried to steal the money that O'Hair had already stolen "fair-and-square."
But, instead of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, perhaps the US government can print an entire series of stamps depicting the countless hospitals built by atheists to assist poor children throughout the world. Or another one commemorating all of the schools atheists have built around the world for poor kids. And, of course, let's not forgot all of the atheist-inspired food pantries, breadlines, orphanages, drug rehabilitation centers, pregnancy health centers, homeless shelters and retirement homes for the indigent poor. Now, none of these programs actually exist in the physical sense but rather only in the fevered argumentative "fictional" sense that desperate, ignorant people use when they don't have the facts on their side. We've all dealt with those kind of people.
If atheists manage to create any eleemosynary concerns, I'll be sure to keep the stamps commentating their many humanitarian achievements in my garage next to my fleet of flying cars and blessing of winged unicorns.
Of course, such commemorative stamps would have to be issued in an arrogant, self-imposed blindness to the 150 million dead at atheist hands during the 20th century alone. Atheist Chairman Mao and his atheist cohorts killed 65 million souls alone.
As we wait with bated breath for September 4, 2016 when Bl. Mother Teresa finally becomes St. Mother Teresa, I started wondering what other US stamps depicted saints. Apparently, since the United States Post Office first started issuing stamps in AD 1847, over 4,000 stamps have been released depicting over 800 people. Only a tiny handful depict Christian saints:
Blessed Virgin Mary (42 times, see below)
St. Joseph ben Jacob of Bethlehem (4 times, see below)
St. Francis of Assisi (1982, 20¢, #2023)
St. Junipero Serra (1985, 44¢, #C116)
Fr. Edward J. Flanagan, SOG (1986, 4¢, #2171)
Fr. Felix Valera, SOG (1997, 32¢, #3166)
St. Mother Teresa (2010, 44¢, #4475)
Sts. Balthasar, Caspar & Melchior (The Three Magi) (2014, 47¢, 4945)
Though Jesus has appeared with His Blessed Mother every time she has, He doesn't quite count as He's God Himself and not a saint. St. Joseph has appeared alongside of them four times. (1970, 6¢, #1414) (1971, 8¢, #1444) (1976, 13¢, #1701) (2013, 47¢, #4711)
For the sake of completeness, Fr. John P. Washington, (1st Lt., U.S. Army) is one of the four military chaplains depicted on the 1948 Four Chaplains stamp. (1948, 3¢, #956) He died in a Nazi attack on his transport. The four chaplains, including a rabbi and two Protestant pastors aboard the ship gave up their life preservers so that more soldiers would survive. They went down with the ship holding hands and singing hymns to God. As to the question whether this selfless act (John 15:13) would make Fr. Washington a martyr, this is above my pay scale.
The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Christ Child have appeared together 42 times in US philatelic history first started appearing on US stamps in 1966. Most of these depictions are reproductions of oil painting mostly from the 15th century (23 times) but can be as early as the 13th century. 21 of these paintings are owned by American museums including National Gallery of Arts, Boston Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Detroit Institute of Arts and the Houston Museum. One is from a window in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The Madonna and Child will appear on an additional stamp on October 7, 2016.
Angels have appeared on 20 stamps including: #1276, #1353, #1363, #1414, #1471, #1550, #1580, #1768, #2948, #2949, #2957, #2958, #2959, #2960, #3012, #3018, #3030, #3176, #4359 and #4424. An additional angel also appears on Post Card# UXC16.
Interestingly, the United States Postal Service didn’t issue Christmas stamps―neither the Virgin Mary and Child nor any other Christmas symbol―until 1962.
Most reasonable and level-headed Americans, Catholic or otherwise, understand Mother Teresa to be a humanitarian who saved millions from starvation and destitution―the very starvation and destitution which fundamentalist atheist have glibly and gleefully conspired to not alleviate. It's hypocritical of them to insist that Mother Teresa not be recognized for her saintly acts. It's odder still to suggest that she had any "black marks" against her while intentionally ignoring the deaths of 150 million people at the hands of fundamentalist atheists in the 20th century alone.
By the fundamentalist atheists' pseudologic, any baptized Catholic would necessarily need to be excluded from being depicted upon a stamp (or even appear in public … thus sayeth the fundamentalist atheists)
Annie Laurie Gaylor, Freedom From Religion Foundation spokesmisanthrope, insisted that, "Mother Teresa is principally known as a religious figure who ran a religious institution. You can’t really separate her being a nun and being a Roman Catholic from everything she did.”
This may or may not be true—however, what is irrefutably true is that it will be a bright, happy, sunshiny day in Hell before fundamentalist atheists build a school, hospital/clinic, breadline, food pantry, retirement center for the indigent poor.
Gaylor, not knowing when to shut up, whined that Mother Teresa managed “an extremely wealthy charity” that could have done more than it did to help people, that she was only trying “to promote religion,” and that she had a “dark side” (i.e., her refusal to glibly promote abortion as do fundamentalist atheists.)
But, if fundamentalist atheist become crankypants about remarkable Christians on stamps, all they need do is avoid mailing anything, or buy non-Christian stamps. Apparently, they've got no problem with Eid or Hanukah stamps. Their hatred is solely directed to Christians (i.e., Catholics) which, in an odd way, encourages me. I'm reminded of Christ's words in this regard:
Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. This is how the prophets who lived before you were persecuted. (Mt 5:12)
"If the world hates you, just remember that it has hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, then the world would love you as its own. But I chose you from this world, and you do not belong to it; that is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: 'Slaves are not greater than their master.' If people persecuted Me, they will persecute you too; if they obeyed My teaching, they will obey yours too. (Jn 15:18-20)
But, this isn't mean to discourage anyone. Rather, I say, let's petition the US government to issue yet other stamps commemorating remarkable Americans or foreigners who have assisted poor Americans such as St. Damien of Molokai and Junipero Serra. These two individuals are the only two canonized saints currently represented in the United States Capitol’s National Statuary Hall so there's little, if any, reason why they shouldn't also be depicted on a US stamp. The same goes for Sts. Kateri Tekakwitha, John Neumann, Elizabeth Ann Seton and Frances Xavier Cabrini.
When Postmaster General John Potter dedicated the Mother Teresa stamp, he said, "Often, stamps are referred to as a nation’s ‘calling cards’ because they reach a national, and even an international audience. They focus attention on subjects our country regards with respect and affection, and that is certainly true of Mother Teresa, who believed so deeply in the innate worth and dignity of humankind and worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor, sick, orphaned and dying. That’s why today I am so very proud that our country, after making her an honorary citizen in 1996, is honoring Mother Teresa with such a lasting memorial.”
For your convenience, I've compiled a list of all of 69 American saints, beati, venerables and Servants of God (or foreigners who are associated with America having sojourned on our shores) who've yet to be commemorated with an American stamp. Consider them and consider asking our representatives to do us a mitzvah and show the world all of the wonderful holy people who have shaped American society and culture.
List of American Saints
St. Isaac Jogues (b. 1607, France, 1608, canonized by Pius XI, 1930)
St. René Goupil (b. France, 1608, canonized by Pius XI, 1930)
St. Jean de Lalande (b. France, 1606-ca., canonized by Pius XI, 1930)
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (b. the Austrian Empire, 1850; canonized by Ven. Pius XII, 1946)
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (b. the Province of New York, 1774; canonized by Bl. Paul VI, 1975)
St. John Neumann, Bishop (b. the Austrian Empire, 1811; canonized by Bl. Paul VI, 1977)
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, Religious (b. France, 1769; canonized by St. John Paul II, 1988)
St. Katharine Drexel (b. Pennsylvania, 1858; canonized by St. John Paul II, 2000)
St. Théodore Guérin (b. France, 1798; canonized by Benedict XVI, 2006)
St. Damien de Veuster (b. Belgium, 1840; canonized by Benedict XVI, 2009)
St. Marianne Cope (b. the Grand Duchy of Hesse, 1838; canonized by Benedict XVI, 2012)
St. Kateri Tekakwitha (b. New Netherland, 1657; canonized by Benedict XVI, 2012)
St. Louis Bertrand (b. Spain, 1526; canonized by Pope Clement X, 1671)
St. Pedro Calungsod, Martyr (b. the Philippines, ca. 1655; canonized by Benedict XVI, 2012)
Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos, Priest (b. the Kingdom of Bavaria, 1819; beatified by St. John Paul II, 2000)
Bl. Teresa Demjanovich, Religious (b. New Jersey, 1901; beatified by Francis, 2014)
Bl. Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago (b. Puerto Rico, 1918; beatified by St. John Paul II, 2001)
Bl. Diego Luis de San Vitores, Martyr (b. Spain, 1627; beatified by St. John Paul II, 1985)
Bl. Eduardo Farré and Bl. Lucas Tristany (beatified along with 496 other martyrs of the Spanish Civil War, 2007) They were naturalized American citizens during their lifetimes and were parish priests in the Diocese of Tucson. (b. 19th century, Spain; beatified by Benedict XVI, 2007)
Ven. Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus. (b. 1852, Connecticut; Beatified by Pope Benedict XVI.)
Ven. Cornelia Connelly, Religious (b. Pennsylvania, 1809; decl. venerable by St. John Paul II, 1992)
Ven. Fr. Solanus Casey (b. Wisconsin, 1870; decl. venerable by St. John Paul II, 1995)
Ven. Fr. Michael J. McGivney (b. Connecticut, 1852; decl. venerable by Benedict XVI, 2008)
Ven. Sr. Henriette DeLille (b. Louisiana, 1813; decl. venerable by Benedict XVI, 2010)
Ven. Fr. Nelson Baker (b. New York, 1842; decl. venerable by Benedict XVI, 2011)
Ven. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen (b. Illinois, 1895; decl. venerable by Benedict XVI, 2012)
Ven. Sr. Celestina Bottego (b. Ohio, 1895; decl. venerable by Francis, 2013)
Ven. Fr. Aloysius Schwartz (b. the District of Columbia, 1930; decl. venerable by Francis, 2015)
Ven. Fr. Samuel Charles Mazzuchelli (b. Italy, 1806; decl. venerable by St. John Paul II, 1993)
Ven. Fr. Alfred Pampalon, (b. Notre-Dame de Levis, Quebec), 1867; decl. venerable by John Paul II, 1991)
Ven. Sr. Maria Teresa Dudzik (b. the Province of West Prussia, 1860; decl. venerable by St. John Paul II, 1994)
Ven. Pierre Toussaint (b. Saint-Domingue, c. 1766; decl. venerable by St. John Paul II, 1996)
Ven. Sr. Maria Kaupas (b. the Kovno Governorate, 1880; decl. venerable by Benedict XVI, 2010)
Ven. Bishop Frederic Baraga (b. the Duchy of Carniola, 1797; decl. venerable by Benedict XVI, 2012)
Ven. Sr. Mary Angeline Teresa McCrory (b. Ireland, 1893; decl. venerable by Benedict XVI, 2012)
Ven. Sr. Joaquina Maria Mercedes Barcelo Pages (b. Spain, 1857; decl. venerable by Benedict XVI, 2012)
Ven. Sr. Isabel Larrañaga Ramírez, (b. the Philippines, 1836; decl. venerable by St. John Paul II, 1999)
Ven. Sr. Ignacia del Espíritu Santo, (b. the Philippines, 1663; decl. venerable by Benedict XVI, 2007)
Ven. Rafael Cordero (b. Puerto Rico, 1790; decl. venerable by Francis, 2013)
Ven. Antonio Margil (decl. venerable 1836) established several missions in what would later become the state of Texas during a Spanish-French territorial dispute in the 1710s.
American Servants of God
SOG Frederic Baraga
SOG Simon Bruté
SOG Vincent Robert Capodanno
SOG Walter Ciszek
SOG Terence Cooke
SOG Rafael Cordero
SOG Pedro de Corpa
SOG Blas de Rodriguez
SOG Miguel de Anon
SOG Antonio de Badajoz
SOG Francisco de Berascola
SOG Dorothy Day
SOG Maria Esperanza de Bianchini
SOG Cora Evans
SOG Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin
SOG John Hardon
SOG Isaac Hecker
SOG Emil Kapaun
SOG Mary Elizabeth Lange
SOG Rose Hawthorne Lathrop
SOG Mary Virginia Merrick
SOG Joseph Muzquiz
SOG Francis J. Parater
SOG Ida Peterfy
SOG Bernard J. Quinn
SOG Stanley Rother
SOG Augustine Tolton
SOG Patrick Peyton
Special Thanks: I wish to thank Matt Brogan of the Coros Chronicle, a publication dedicated to religious themes on stamps and Scott Tiffney, the Reference Assistant for the American Philatelic Research Library for their invaluable help in researching data for this article.
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