By E. H. Richardson
THE first modern issue of Papal postage stamps occurred in 1928, when, to raise funds to excavate the tombs of SS. Damasus and Pretextatus in the catacombs at Rome, two special issues of stamps, each bearing a portrait of His Holiness, wearing the Papal Triregno, and that of King Alphonso XIII, were issued for a limited period in Spain. These stamps were on sale only at Toledo and Santiago de Campostela, from December 23, 1928, until January 6, 1929. Special issues, each comprising sixteen items in the identical design but different colours, were issued. for each place, a total of thirty-two stamps in all.
In the next year, 1929, Pope Pius XI issued stamps on his own account, but before examining these it is better to glance at the earlier stamps, made by the Papal States in the nineteenth century.
The Roman States, States of the Church, or Papal States, as they are variously termed, occupied an area of 17,218 square miles in 1852, when stamps were first issued. These stamps were formal in design, and bore various representations of the Keys of St. Peter and the Pope's Triregno or triple, crown. The States of Romagna, Umbria, and The Marches became incorporated in the Kingdom of Sardinia, and in 1870 the remaining States—Rome, Comarca, Viterbo, Civita Vecchia, Velietri anal Frosinone—were merged in United Italy, the territory of the Papacy being confined to the Palaces of the Vatican and Lateran and the Villa of Castel Gandolfo.
Under the law of Guarantees pasEed by the Italian Government in 1871, the postal privileges of the Pope throughout his now reduced territory, were secured to him, but the Holy See refused to recognise the Law, and the issues of the Papal States ceased, Italian stamps being used throughout the whole territory. During the period 1852-1870, when the Papal stamps were used, there were three different issues. The first in 1852 of eleven values, the second in 1867 of seven values, all imperforate, While in 1868 the 1867 stamps were perfibrated.
THE LATERAN TREATY
On February 11, 1929, the Lateran Treaty was signed between the Pope and the King of Italy, whereby restitution was made for the loss of Papal temporal power in 1870, and the full and independent sovereignty of the Holy See in the City of the Vatican was recognised. His Holiness then reasserted his postal rights, and on August 1„ 1929, the first stamps of the Vatican City appeared.
There were two designs, the lower values bearing the Keys and Papal Tiara, as in 1852, and the higher, a full-face portrait of Pope Pius XI. Two " express " letter stamps, also bearing the Pope's portrait, were issued at the same time.
Various other stamps have been issued from time to time by the Vatican State, but of those only the high values in the 1933 general series portrayed Pope Pius XI. Although not portraits of His Holiness, two values in the 1924 " Holy Year " Commemorative stamps issued by Italy, actually portrayed Pius XI. On the 1 lira denomination, the Pope was shown opening the Holy Door of St. Peter's, and on the 5 lire, closing it.