The Vatican ies a new stamp this Thursday. The special thing: It features, among others, the reformer Martin Luther, but also Melanchthon. In this way, the Vatican is giving a strong ecumenical impulse.
Interviewer: How is it that Martin Luther is depicted on a stamp from the Vatican of all places??
Ulrich Nersinger (Vatican expert): Many have asked themselves. When the first news came out that the Vatican would ie a so-called Luther stamp, not so few people were shocked and surprised. I must honestly say that I too was surprised and thought to myself: What is this?? Then I saw the first drafts, now also the final version and was very pleasantly surprised and very taken with this idea.
Interviewer: What does this stamp look like?
Nersinger: First of all, we have to say something in advance: If we take a look at the websites and magazines of the Catholic and Protestant churches, we often see the expression "jubilee" used to describe the commemoration of the Reformation. I read very often about the Reformation anniversary. I have always associated this as something not good, because with the term "jubilee" one associates jubilate – that is, rejoice and celebrate. I think 500 years of Reformation is an event that is rather thought-provoking. This stamp picks up on something like that.
The Vatican stamp not only shows Luther, it shows Christ crucified in the center. Under the cross then Luther and Melanchthon can be seen. Two great reformers. For me, this is a beautiful catechesis, also with a view to ecumenism. This shows, first of all, that at the center of such a commemoration is always Christ. This is from the Vatican the recognition of a historical reality, but also a catechesis with a strong ecumenical impulse, saying: we must try to achieve again a unification of the two denominations through ecumenism. And that is, I think, very nicely expressed.
Interviewer: How to get this stamp?
Nersinger: You can buy them at the Vatican. You can stamp every letter and postcard with it, it costs one euro. It has been produced in a relatively large edition. The stamp is available in sets, but you can also buy them individually and then frank every letter to every corner of the world. And with it one can contribute a little bit to carry this idea of ecumenism further. This is a very nice idea that the Vatican has come up with.
The thing I regret: many states ie communion stamps. This is what the Vatican and the Federal Republic used to do, also together. I think it would have been a good idea to ie this stamp together with Germany.
The interview was conducted by Silvia Ochlast