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The Deacon's Bench

It’s that time of year again, and as you get ready to send out your Christmas cards, CNS has helpfully written a nifty history of the Christmas stamp:

The series actually got its start in 1966, four years after the first Christmas stamp debuted with a wreath, two candles and the words “Christmas 1962.”

The first religious Christmas stamp owes its origin in part to the lobbying efforts of the late Anthony Coviello, a parishioner at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Waterbury, Conn.

The 1966 stamp, “Madonna and Child With Angels,” started a trend of Christmas stamps featuring Renaissance paintings. The series was interrupted in 1977 when the Christmas stamp featured a praying George Washington.

The next year the Postal Service resumed the Madonna and Child stamps and the series has continued ever since, with a close call to stop production in 1995.

When a Postal Service advisory committee voted to replace the Madonna and Child stamp with a Victorian-era angel, a flurry of negative reaction from public interest groups and even then-President Bill Clinton, prompted an immediate reversal.

Marvin Runyon, postmaster general at the time, said the Madonna and Child stamp would stay, at least while he was in office, because it had “occupied an important place” for so many years and was “meaningful to so many Americans.”

And in 2007, the Madonna and Child stamp is still sticking to its spot in the right corner of millions of pieces of mail. This year’s “Madonna of the Carnation” is a detail of a Bernardino Luini painting of the same name from around 1515 and housed in Washington’s National Gallery of Art.

Check the link for the rest of the story. And remember to mail your cards and packages early. Preferably, with Christmas stamps.

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