The Holy Father is able to draw close to those who are suffering around in the world through the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. Whenever a natural or manmade disaster occurs, Cor Unum immediately acts in the name of the Pope to help alleviate the suffering of those affected. This solidarity can consist of a visit onsite by Cor Unum or of material assistance provided through the generosity of individuals who share the Pope’s concern for those in difficulty. Cor Unum also works to disseminate the Church’s teachings regarding charity, which the Holy Father considers so important that he dedicated his first encyclical to it, Deus Caritas Est. Cor Unum also oversees two papal foundations. One assists efforts to address the problem of drought in nine countries of Africa’s Sahel region, while the other supports indigenous people, Afro-Americans and farmers of Latin America. Cor Unum also coordinates the work of Catholic aid and assistance organizations, and underscores always the importance of a “formation of the heart” of those working in them. Their work must always spring from Christian faith which is expressed in loving charity. The series of postcards produced by the Philatelic Office of Vatican City illustrates the work of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. The goal is that they might serve as an instrument to remind the faithful of how the Pope can draw close to those suffering through their own offerings.  

This year’s series of stamps dedicated to Christmas is a joint issue with Romania and consists of two stamps and two booklets. The images selected for the stamps reproduce two paintings. The first is “The Birth of Jesus”, a work by 19th century Romanian painter, Gheorghe Tattarascu. The artist is considered one of the pioneers of Romanian neoclassicism. He studied for a number of years in the mid-1800s at the Accademica di San Luca in Rome and received a number of awards. Most of his works are dedicated to religious themes. The nativity scene reproduced on the stamps is from a painting in the metropolitan Cathedral dedicated to the Blessed Virgin in the city of lasi, Romania. The second painting is “The Nativity and Adoration of the Shepherds”, which is a copy attributed to the school of Murillo, a Spanish artist dedicated to works primarily on sacred themes. This painting of the Adoration is considered one of the best copies and became part of the Vatican Pinacoteca collection in 1861 thanks to Pius IX.