The joint postage stamp between Vatican City State and Lithuania Post, which is dedicated to the 600th anniversary of the Samogitian (Medininkai) Diocese establishment, was created by the Lithuanian artist Vaclovas Butrimas. The nominal value of the postage stamp is EUR 1. In Lithuania, it is released in the edition of 200 000 copies and in Vatican in the edition of 360 000 copies.
“The 600th anniversary of the Samogitian Diocese establishment, which is being commemorated this year, is significant not only to Lithuania but also to the whole Catholic Church community of Europe. We are glad for the given opportunity to cooperate with the Vatican post issuing the postage stamp dedicated to the Samogitian Diocese establishment. This postage stamp is going to commemorate the christening of the last European nation,” Head of Corporate Affairs Department of Lithuania Post Rasa Kruopaite-Laliene said.
Different foreign countries in cooperation with Lithuania Post have already issued a few joint postage stamps, however, such a philatelic cooperation together with Vatican City State is the first one. Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania to the Holy See has initiated the building of contacts between Lithuania Post and Vatican City State.
“An important topic to both sides was suggested, therefore, Lithuania and Vatican have successfully commemorated it in the joint postage stamp. A smooth cooperation in the field of philately shows that Lithuania and the Holy See maintain comprehensive diplomatic relations,” Ambassador of Lithuania to the Holy See Irena Vaisvilaite said.
She reminded that Vatican has already issued a set of three stamps having a Lithuanian theme so far. It was dedicated to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the christening of Lithuania. At that time, in 1987, Lithuania was still suffering under the yoke of the Soviet occupation, therefore, the issue of the postage stamp was initiated by Lithuanian emigrants.
On February 10, Friday, the new postage stamp was officially presented to the hierarchs of Lithuanian Catholic Church and foreign ambassadors residing in Vilnius. On this occasion, Mauro Olivieri, the head of Vatican post and mint, came to Lithuania.
Along with the new stamp, designated to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the Samogitian Diocese establishment, the first day cover was released. On Friday, correspondence paid by the new stamp was marked by the first day cancellation at Vilnius Main Post Office.
The official christening of the last European pagan country
The Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas and the first Samogitian Bishop Motiejus Vilnietis (Trakiskis) are depicted in the postage stamp that was created by the painter Vaclovas Butrimas. A church building is visible in the hands of the ruler of Lithuania as a symbol of faith and culture.
At the end of the 14th century only a part of Lithuania was baptized. As the western part of the country – Samogitia – was claimed by the Teutonic Order, with the efforts of Lithuanian rulers the Grand Dukes Jogaila and Vytautas the Great it was possible to christen Samogitian lands peacefully and without any conquest. The Samogition Diocese establishment was decided during the Constance Church meeting, in the longest surviving pagan Lithuanian region in 1417. The establishment of the Samogitian Diocese was approved by Pope Martynas V, who was elected at the meeting. This event concludes Lithuania's integration into the European Christian nations' family, which was initiated with the christening of Lithuanian King Mindaugas.
In the course of a year, Lithuania Post issues on average 25-27 postage stamps. Lithuania Post also provides courier, logistic, and financial intermediation services.