On 13 November 2014, Liechtenstein released three stamps that in my opinion are additional candidates for the most beautiful Christmas stamps of this year. Featuring mountain chapels, they are even more stunning on their official maximum cards. The following description comes from the postal service’s press release:
This year, three chapels of the mountain community of Triesenberg are depicted on the traditional stamps in the Christmas period. As is often the case, the Philately is using this issue to again offer artists in Liechtenstein a platform for showing their work. For instance, oil paintings by Erich Beck, who paints pictures mainly of landscapes and animals from his homeland in his part-time artistic endeavours, serve as a basis for the special issue stamps. By scanning the stamps with an app (SEPAC Stamps), the implemented augmented reality (AR) function presents a slide show of the three chapels on any smart phone or tablet, set to the tune of the ringing bells of the respective chapel.
The “St. Theodulskapelle Masescha” (value: CHF 1.40) is mentioned in a document for the first time in 1465 and is thus the oldest Vals monument of the country. When it was built, the chapel was no doubt dedicated to Maria with Holy Theodor as a second patron. But people have always seen it as being dedicated to St. Theodul. This was taken into account in 2005 when the chapel was named after St. Theodul as the main patron saint by the Archbishop on the occasion of the 650-year anniversary “650 Jahre Walser am Triesenberg”. The “St. Wendelinskapelle Steg” (value: CHF 1.00) has existed in its present form since 1907. The chapel was originally a shrine. In 1817, the shrine was enlarged to make a small chapel, which is the choir today. The nave was added in 1834 and the vestibule and round tower including the bell were built in 1907. Once the vestry was added in 1938, the expansion of the chapel as it stands today was completed.
Ever since 1951, the “Friedenskapelle Malbun” (value: CHF 0.85) has been a popular place of worship in the Alps. Liechtenstein’s highest House of God bears its name as a sign of gratitude that Liechtenstein was spared from the atrocities of the Second World War. The simple, stone-walled building with a shingle roof is considered an ornamental feature in the Alpine landscape and blends into its surroundings very well.
According to CyprusStamps.com, Cyprus issued it’s set of three stamps on 24 November along with a set of maximum cards:
This year’s series, devoted to Christmas, features three icons that were repatriated in November 2013 from Munich in Germany, after lengthy legal battles. Another 169 ecclesiastical treasures were also returned. All these relics are on exhibition at present at the Byzantine Museum of the Archbishop Makarios III Foundation.
The Birth of Christ
The €0,41 stamp depicts the Birth of Christ. The artist placed great importance on the details of the setting, high on a rocky hillside. Within the cave, the kneeling Virgin Mary and Joseph, with their hands clasped, are worshipping the Divine Infant placed between them. At the entrance of the cave, at the first level, the shepherds are arriving with their sheep. The icon is in the post-Byzantine style of the late 17th century.
Virgin Mary Glykofilousa
The €0,64 stamp depicts the Virgin Mary in the form of the Ghykofilousa (Madonna of the Tender Kiss – 16th century), originating from the church of Ayia Zoni in Varosha (Famagusta). It is an icon of exceptional artistry and is in the style of the Cyprus Renaissance. The icon is cracked and the paint surface is missing in various places. This damage was either caused during looting and its illegal export or due to the inappropriate storage conditions.
The Birth of Christ
The third stamp, valued at €0,75 also depicts the Birth of Christ (17th century). The iconographic Byzantine style of the Birth is followed, as practised in the 15th century, in the formation of the cave but with a hardness in the folds of the clothing. In the composition, the Virgin Mary is depicted reclining diagonally, next to the Baby Jesus, as three scenes unfold around her: The Temptation of Joseph, the Bathing of the Infant and the Annunciation to the Shepherds by the Angel.
Design: Icons from Byzantine Museum
Artwork: Yiota Tsiaklidou, Lefkosia
Size of stamps: 27 x 40 mm
Sheet layout: Sheets of 8 stamps
Printing method: Litho-Offset on unwatermarked paper
Printer: Giesecke & Devrient Matsoukis S.A., Greece
Regardless of your religious affiliation or the manner in which you celebrate (if at all) the Christmas season, I hope you are enjoying a look at the beautiful art created on these bits of paper we call postage stamps. If you would like to spread a little holiday cheer and send me a postcard or letter with a nice Christmas stamp affixed, I’d be very appreciative. My mailing address can be found below.
8/1 Suthas Soi 2
T. Talat Yai
A. Muang Phuket