Saints Peter and Paul and St. Albert Chmielowski (1845-1916) as depicted on last year’s stamps of the Vatican City and Poland have won the 2018 St. Gabriel Award for best religious stamps. This is the decision taken by the international jury comprised of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna; Luigi Bressan, Archbishop emeritus of Trento; Jamil Nassif Abib; Michlak Bogdan, Franco Filanci, Giorgio Migliavacca; Wilhelm Remes; Annemarie Strasser and Ján Vallo. Named after the “Lord’s Postman” and launched in 1969 to select the best religious stamps of the year, the 36th edition of this prestigious prize was held on 7 October at the Fioroni Museum at Legnago, near Verona.
Successful maker of medals, but new to the stamp design arena, Daniela
Fusco has been making her mark with one of the stamps of the Corporal Works of Mercy and one stamp celebrating the Feast of Our Lord issued by the Vatican as part of the Jubilee of Mercy cycle which earned the St. Gabriel Award 2017. Her depictions of Saints Peter and Paul in last year’s Vatican stamps celebrating the 1950th anniversary of their martyrdom are true works of art. The impressive portraits capture the viewer’s attention but the
details are equally mesmerizing as is the case of St. Peter’s portrait which includes the vivid image of the rooster as a reminder of Peter’s triple denial, while one the holy keys is placed upside down unlocking the martyrdom and crucifixion of the Vicar and Prince of the Apostles. St. Paul’s portrait is underlined by the presence of the sword, symbol of persecution and martyrdom – both giving greater strength to faith; the book facing the Saint is a reminder of the many letters written by Paul to the Christian communities of the then known world.
Closer to our times is the statue of the Polish Saint portrayed inside a perforated heart created by Andrzej and Teresa Sowińki captivated the jury. St. Albert Chmielowski was a highly religious patriot and painter who inspired the vocation of Pope John Paul II; he also founded both the Servants of the Poor and
Sisters Servants of the Poor. In 1949, John Paul II, then a humble priest, wrote a play about Chmierlowski which in 1997 was made into a movie.
St. Albert Chmierlowski is considered the Polish St. Francis and is remembered for his total dedication to the poor. He is depicted on the stamp in one of his most famous gestures: “With one hand he offers the bread, while with the right hand he points to Heaven”. “To me”, assures the Polish artist Teresa Sowinski, “Brother Alberto is a person of great spiritual values. And at the same time he represents a great example of patriotism, because he fought during the insurrection against the occupier to regain the independence of the country. And because he is a giant of holiness, charity and mercy “.
Legnago’s Mayor, Clara Scapin says that each year the St. Gabriel Award “surprises us while keeping the global community in touch”. Nicola Di Foggia brought greetings from the Philatelic Bureau of the Vatican City. While receiving the Award, Wieslaw Wlodek, vice president of the Polish Posts pointed out that this year 30 percent of the newly issued Polish stamps focus on the religious theme.
As usual the philatelic souvenirs of this Award are a picture postcard and a special pictorial postmark, both featuring the Annunciation – a surprising collective work of art by a pool of inmates of the Artemisia Lab at the Bollate Penitentiary.