On 8 December 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy will open. It is a special date for the Catholic Church since it will also be the day marking the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. “At times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives. For this reason I have proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a special time for the Church, a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective.” (Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus). The Philatelic and Numismatic Office will celebrate the opening of the Holy Year with the issue a postage stamp series consisting of two values featuring artwork by Gabriella Titotto. On the 0.80 cent stamp, the artist depicts the Pope on a background of the Holy Door which is partially opened and where a cross can be seen symbolizing the way of mercy which leads to Christ. The 0.95 cent stamp features the Immaculate Conception according to classical iconography with a woman clothed with the sun who, in the vision of Saint John in the apocalypse, crushes the head of the serpent. The postage stamps will be the first of a series of issues dedicated to the works of mercy and will offer an expression of the journey of the Church and the faithful during the Jubilee year. The Philatelic and Numismatic Office will celebrate the beginning of the Holy Year of Mercy with the issue of a special philatelic folder which contains the set of stamps issued for the beginning of the Jubilee and two envelopes issued by the Vatican Post Office bearing the first day cancellation. A compact disc with music that traces the steps of a solemn Mass continues the tradition started in 2009 of dedicating a philatelic-musical issue.