Postage Stamps for the Centenary: a Little Sign to ‘Send’ the Charism to so many Recipients!

‘Franco-bollo’: a ‘bollo’ (‘stamp’) affixed to a letter to make it ‘franco’ (‘franked’), that is to say ‘free’ of costs for the person who receives it!

During the era of high digitalisation and practically instantaneous communication through the Web or e-mails, perhaps almost all of us have lost the appeal and the poetry of taking up white paper and an ink pot with which to impress – with the personality that transpires from our personality – our thoughts and our emotions, putting them in an envelope on which is written – visually imagining him – the recipient of our private communications, worries, joys or fears, and then with a little saliva putting a postage stamp on that letter! We entrust to this postage stamp the task of winging away this message and carrying it to its destination, which is usually still proclaimed by an envelope with a postage stamp which often tells us even before the letter has been opened about countries, situations, events, facts, memories…

Postage stamps which thrilled us when we collected them, above all else we did not have the last one, perhaps, to complete the series!

A postage stamp is like a little visible imagined reality which accompanies our thoughts which are secretly kept inside a well sealed envelope.

Il francobollo emesso dal Sovrano Ordine di Malta

Il francobollo emesso dal Sovrano Ordine di Malta

It is from this perspective that we can also interpret the issuing of postage stamps on the occasion of the fourth centenary of the death of St. Camillus (1614-2014) by the Sovereign Military Hospital Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta (SMOM) (issued on 26 May 2014); by the Italian Postal Service (issued on 14 July 2014); and by the Postal Service of the Vatican City (issued on 28 August 2014).

The initiative of the Sovereign Military Hospital Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta was its 462nd philatelic issue. The stamp portrays St. Camillus helping a sick man, as well as the logo of the Camillian fourth centenary, and involves nine-thousand complete series.

Il francobollo emesso da Poste Italiane

Il francobollo emesso da Poste Italiane

A Byzantine touch, on the other hand, characterises the Italian tribute to St. Camillus de Lellis of Abruzzi during the fourth centenary of his going to heaven. We do not have, that is to say, the effect of the little image of the stamp which was issued on 26 May with the same purpose by the SMOM. The seventy centime self-affixing stamp of the Italian postal service, which was issued on 14 July, the day when we solemnly celebrated the ending of the jubilee year, refers to the patron saint of the sick, of nurses and of hospitals by using the icon ‘St. Camillus while Comforting a Sick Man’, which was reworked for the occasion by the printers and mint of the state. This work, produced by the painter Amiran Goglidze, is hung in the ‘Redemptor hominis’ Polyclinic  of Tbilisi, in Georgia.

Il francobollo delle Poste Vaticane

Il francobollo delle Poste Vaticane

On 28 August the philatelic office of the State of the Vatican City also issued a postage stamp dedicated to the fourth centenary of the death of St. Camillus.

 This stamp bears the picture entitled ‘St. Camillus amongst the Plague-stricken’ which is kept in the museum of the Order in Piazza della Maddalena in Rome.

Attributed to the painter Sebastiano Conca, this painting is set in Rome and portrays St. Camillus while giving food to plague-stricken people together with other Camillian religious, with the Coliseum in the background and at the top a group of angels in glory.

In a few brushstrokes is condensed the meaning of the fourth religious vow professed by we Camillian religious and which commits us to ‘caring for sick people, even with the plague, even at the risk to our own lives’

The hope is that this small ‘stamp’ can bring forth some good resolution involving Samaritan charity in some man or woman who holds it in their hands while they affix it with saliva on an envelope or when near to an increasingly rare letter box while they check with care the address of the recipient.

A small ‘stamp’ to send and deliver the charism of Camillus to goals that are unknown to us!


Gianfranco Lunardon

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