Friday, March 1, 2013
Pope Benedict XVI finally bids farewell to all the faithful of the Roman Catholic Church on February 28, 2013. With the pope's resignation, the Vatican declares today a "Sede Vacante" or Vacant See.
During this period, the coat of arms of the Holy See changes. Instead of the papal tiara over the keys, it is replaced with the umbraculum. This symbolizes the absence of a pope and the governance of the Camerlengo. The coat of arms of the Camerlengo ornaments the symbol and is replaced immediately after a new pope is installed.
The Vatican Philatelic and Numismatic Office revealed that after the pope's resignation, "Sede Vacante 2013" stamps will be released. The stamps valued at 70 cents (for Italy), 80 cents (for Europe and Mediterranean), 2 euros (for Africa, Asia and the US) and 2.5 euros (for Australia) will have an identical motif and is valid until a new pope will be inaugurated. The stamp design shows the Vacant See symbol - a striped umbrella over crossed keys and the words Sede Vacante, Citta del Vaticano and MMXIII.
The first printing of "Sede Vacante" commemorative stamps began in 1939. The "Sede Vacante" stamps after the death of Pope John Paul II were a blockbuster. 750,000 copies were printed with values of 60, 62 and 80 cents. See photo above.