Custom Search

 Vatican Stamps

Issues of 1949-1951

The pictorial Vatican stamps issued between 1949 and 1951 celebrate important people and events in Church and World history, including some of the great basilicas and the anniversary of the Council of Chalcedon.

The twelve pictorial postage and special delivery stamps shown above (Sc. #122-131, #E11-12) were issued on March 7, 1949 to publicize the great Roman Basilicas.

All of these Vatican stamps, except for the 100 Lire denomination, exist in two perforation gauges.  Some of the denominations also exist imperforate and in imperforate between pairs.  See the major catalogs for details.

The designs are as follows.

  • 001 L. - Basilica of St. Agnes.  The basilica was commissioned by Pope Honorius I (585-638) during the early 7th Century.  The Catacombs of St. Agnes lie beneath the basilica.
  • 003 L. - Basilica of St. Clement.  The basilica is dedicated to Pope Clement I (d. 101).  The present-day basilica was built during the late 11th Century on the site of a 4th Century basilica, which had been built on the site of a 1st Century Roman villa.
  • 005 L. - Basilica of St. Praxedes.  The basilica was commissioned by Pope Adrian I (700-795) during the late 8th Century.  It was built over the site of a 4th Century structure, designed to house the relics of St. Praxedes and St. Pudentiana.
  • 008 L. - Basilica of St. Mary in Cosmedin.  The basilica was built in the 8th Century over the site of the ancient Roman Temple of Hercules Pompeianus.
  • 013 L. - Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem.  The basilica was consecrated in 325, to house the relics of the Passion of Jesus Christ brought to Rome by Flavia Iulia Helena (St. Helena), the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (272-337).  The basilica's floor was originally covered with soil brought from Jerusalem, thus the name "in Jerusalem".
  • 016 L. - Basilica of St. Sebastian.  The basilica was originally built during the 4th Century, and it was dedicated to St. Sebastian (256-288).  The Catacombs of St. Sebastian lie beneath the basilica.
  • 025 L. - Basilica of St. Lawrence.  The basilica was originally built in the 4th Century.   The site was a shrine to the tomb of St. Lawrence (225-258) who was martyred during the persecutions of the Roman Emperor Valerian (193-264).  Other martyred saints, as well as Pope Pius IX (1792-1878), the last sovereign ruler of the Papal States, are buried within the basilica.
  • 035 L. - Basilica of St. Paul.  This major basilica was founded by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (272-337) and expanded by Roman Emperor Theodosius I (347-395) during the 4th Century.  The basilica is the burial place of St. Paul the Apostle (A.D. 5-68), previously known as Saul of Tarsus.
  • 040 L. - Basilica of St. Mary Major (Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore).  The basilica was commissioned by Pope Sixtus III in 432.  This basilica, built in the aftermath of the Council of Ephesus of 431, which proclaimed Mary as the Mother of God, was one of the first churches to be built in honor of the Virgin Mary.
  • 100 L. - Pope Pius XII.
  • 040 L. (Special Delivery) - Basilica of St. Peter.  The High Renaissance Basilica, that we know today, was begun in 1506 and completed in 1626.  This Renaissance basilica replaced the Old St. Peter's Basilica, built on this site by Constantine the Great during the 4th Century.  The column bases from Constantine's original basilica can still be seen underneath the foundation of the present-day basilica.  The obelisk in the middle of St. Peter's Square, outside the basilica, marks the spot where St. Peter the Apostle (A.D. 1-68) was crucified in the Circus of Nero.  His remains were buried about 150 yards away, in a location that is now known to be directly underneath the High Altar of St. Peter's Basilica.
  • 080 L. (Special Delivery) - High Basilica of St. John Lateran.  This major basilica, part of the Lateran Palace, was begun in 324.  It is the oldest and highest-ranking of the major basilicas, and it is the ecclesiastical seat of the Roman Pontiff (Pope).  The basilica is dedicated to St. John the Baptist (d. 31) and to St. John the Evangelist (A.D. 10-98).

The eight commemorative Vatican stamps shown above (Sc. #132-139) were issued on December 21, 1949 to celebrate Holy Year 1950.

The four common designs, as they appear in the image, are as follows.

  • "Jesus Giving the Keys to Heaven to St. Peter" by Raphael.
  • Basilicas of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John Lateran, and St. Mary Major.
  • Pope Boniface VIII proclaiming Holy Year in 1300.
  • Pope Pius XII during the ceremony of Opening the Holy Door.

The three pictorial Vatican stamps shown above (Sc. #140-142) were issued on September 12, 1950 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Palatine Guard.

The common design features the Palatine Guard and a statue of St. Peter.

The Palatine Guard was a militia unit of the Papal States.  After the Italian Unification, they only served in ceremonial functions, as guards of honor.  The Palatine Guard was finally disbanded in 1970.

The two pictorial Vatican stamps shown above (Sc. #143-144) were issued on May 8, 1951 to commemorate the Proclamation of the Roman Catholic Dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on November 1, 1950.

The two designs feature Pope Pius XII making the proclamation and the crowd in St. Peter's Square.

The four pictorial Vatican stamps shown above (Sc. #145-148) were issued on June 3, 1951 to celebrate the Beatification of Pope Pius X.

The two common designs feature portraits of Pope Pius X.

The five pictorial Vatican stamps shown above (Sc. #149-153) were issued on October 31, 1951 to celebrate the 1,500th Anniversary of the Council of Chalcedon in October of 451.

The two common designs are as follows.

  • The Council of Chalcedon.
  • Pope Leo I negotiating peace with Attila the Hun.

The Council of Chalcedon was held in Chalcedon (Kadikoy, Turkey) from October 8 to November 1, 451.  The council was convened by the Eastern Roman Emperor Marcian (392-457) and Pope Leo I (400-461) to decide the human and divine nature of Jesus Christ.  The council basically reaffirmed the Council of Ephesus (431) and the Creed of Nicaea, stating that Jesus Christ has two distinct natures, combined into one being, with one nature being divine (GOD) and the other nature being mortal (MAN).

eBay Auction and Store Links

Vatican Stamps

The following link features category-focused affiliated seller listings on the US eBay site. They may enable visitors to shop for and to buy specific items for the particular collecting subject they've just read about. 

The affiliated eBay seller auction lots provided by eBay, Inc. are not the responsibility of the management of this website.  On high priced material, make sure the lots you are buying are properly authenticated or certified.


Return to Vatican Stamps from
Issues of 1949-1951