In the summer of 2014, my sister and her family took a cruise in the Mediterranean Sea. Along the way, she sent me several postcards but only the ones from Athens and the Vatican City arrived. I’d misplaced the latter card but recently found it stuffed inside a book about the ASEAN Community. The lovely card shows several paintings displayed in the Vatican Museums including works by Forlí and Raffaelo. The museums were founded early in the 16th century by Pope Julius II and contains fifty-four galleries including the Sistine Chapel. The stamp on this card features Pope Leone X (1513-1521), issued in 2013, and has a very clear Vatican City postmark in red ink.
The Vatican City, or Stato della Città del Vaticano in Italian, is the smallest internationally-recognized independent state in the world in both area (110 acres) and population (842). Having gained its independence from the Kingdom of Italy on 11 February 1929, it is ruled by the Bishop of Rome – the Pope. Some of the world’s most famous paintings and sculptures are to be found in its museums, the Sistine Chapel and the Basilica of St. Peter. The Vatican’s unique economy is supported by the sale of postage stamps, coins (which use the Euro), medals and tourist mementos, museum admission fees, and publication sales. The first Vatican City stamps were released on 1 August 1929 and the designs throughout the years have been extremely attractive. The Vatican postal service is sometimes recognized as the “best in the world” and mail has been noted to arrive at its destination before the postal service in Rome.