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Swiss Stamps


Pro Patria Issues

of 1965-1971

Pro Patria Swiss stamps generate funds to benefit social and cultural charities that are in the country's national interest.  Pro Patria, the Latin phrase from where we get our English word "Patriotism", means "for one's country" or "for the fatherland".

Most of the Pro Patria surtaxed stamps issued between 1965 and 1971 feature the theme of Artworks (Paintings and Stained Glass Windows).  Some of the sets also contain one stamp commemorating a special event or famous person.

Unless stated otherwise, the surtax amounts on all these Swiss stamps benefited the Swiss National Fund or the Red Cross.

Romanesque Church of St. Martin in Zillis (c. 500)
Photograph From: Wikipedia -- By: Adrian Michael (2010)

Ceiling of the Church of St. Martin in Zillis
Painted between 1109 and 1114

The Romanesque Church of St. Martin in Zillis, Canton Graubünden, is believed to have first been constructed in about 500, though the first mention of the church was in an ecclesiastical document of 831.

The ceiling of the church was painted between 1109 and 1114, and it is for this that the church has become world famous.  These High Romanesque paintings illustrate stories from the Bible, and they were intended to educate a church-going population that, at the time, was almost completely illiterate. 

The artwork consists of 153 square plates, individually painted, and then inserted into the ceiling.  This is an astounding achievement, considering the structural difficulty and existing early 12th Century technology.  One must consider that Michelangelo's paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel were undertaken almost 300 years AFTER these were completed.

The first three sets of Pro Patria Swiss stamps shown below show various paintings from this incredible ceiling.


The 5 C. + 5 C. denomination stamp shown above was issued on June 1, 1965 to honor Father Theodosius Florentini (1808-1865), a Capuchin monk and the founder of Catholic religious orders and institutions in Switzerland.

The four paintings-themed Pro Patria Swiss stamps shown above feature the 12th Century High Romanesque paintings from the Church of St. Martin in Zillis.

The designs are as follows:

  • 10 C. + 10 C. - Goose with Fishtail, symbolizing Evil.
  • 20 C. + 10 C. - One of the Three Kings on horseback.
  • 30 C. + 10 C. - Fisherman on the Sea of Galilee.
  • 50 C. + 10 C. - Temptation of Christ.


The 5 C. + 5 C. denomination stamp shown above was issued on June 1, 1966 to honor Heinrich Federer (1866-1928), a Swiss writer and Catholic priest.

The four paintings-themed Pro Patria Swiss stamps shown above feature the 12th Century High Romanesque paintings from the Church of St. Martin in Zillis.

The designs are as follows:

  • 10 C. + 10 C. - (Flight into Egypt) - Joseph's dream.
  • 20 C. + 10 C. - (Flight into Egypt) - Joseph on his way.
  • 30 C. + 10 C. - (Flight into Egypt) - Mary and Jesus.
  • 50 C. + 10 C. - (Flight into Egypt) - Angel leading the way.


The 5 C. + 5 C. denomination stamp shown above was issued on June 1, 1967 to honor Theodor Kocher (1841-1917), the noteworthy Swiss physician and medical researcher.

The four paintings-themed Pro Patria Swiss stamps shown above feature the 12th Century High Romanesque paintings from the Church of St. Martin in Zillis.

The designs are as follows:

  • 10 C. + 10 C. - Annunciation to the Shepherds.
  • 20 C. + 10 C. - Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well.
  • 30 C. + 10 C. - Adoration of the Magi.
  • 50 C. + 10 C. - St. Joseph.

Rose Window in Lausanne Cathedral (c. 1231-1235)
Photograph From: Wikipedia -- By: Patrick Riggenberg (2010)

Detail of the Rose Window in Lausanne Cathedral


The four stained-glass-themed Pro Patria stamps shown above were issued on May 30, 1968.  They feature depictions of the Months and Signs of the Zodiac from the 13th Century Rose Window in Lausanne Cathedral.

The designs are as follows:

  • 10 C. + 10 C. - May (Hunter).
  • 20 C. + 10 C. - Leo.
  • 30 C. + 10 C. - Libra.
  • 50 C. + 20 C. - Pisces.


The four stained-glass-themed Pro Patria stamps shown above were issued on May 29, 1969.  They feature religious stained glass artwork from various Swiss churches.

The designs are as follows:

  • 10 C. + 10 C. - St. Francis Preaching to the Birds, from the Königsfelden Convent Church (c. 1320).
  • 20 C. + 10 C. - Israelites Drinking from the Spring of Moses, from Bern Cathedral (c. 1450).
  • 30 C. + 10 C. - St. Christopher, from the Läufelfingen Church (c. 1450-1475), now in the Basel Museum.
  • 50 C. + 20 C. - Virgin and Child, from the Gräpplang Chapel (c. 1150), now in the National Museum.


The four stained-glass-themed Pro Patria stamps shown above were issued on May 29, 1970.  They feature modern stained glass artwork.

The designs are as follows:

  • 10 C. + 10 C. - Sailor by Gian Casty.
  • 20 C. + 10 C. - Abstract Composition by Celestino Piatti.
  • 30 C. + 10 C. - Bull (Assyrian god Marduk) by Hans Stocker.
  • 50 C. + 20 C. - Man and Woman by Max Hunziker and Karl Ganz.


The four stained-glass-themed Pro Patria stamps shown above were issued on May 27, 1971.  They feature modern stained glass artwork.

The designs are as follows:

  • 10 C. + 10 C. - Composition, by Jean Comment, from the Church of Courgenay, Canton Jura.
  • 20 C. + 10 C. - Cock by Jean Prahin, from the Church of Féchy, Canton Vaud.
  • 30 C. + 10 C. - Glass painting of a Fox by Kurt Volk.
  • 50 C. + 20 C. - Composition by Bernard Schorderet, from the Church of Vicques, Canton Jura.








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