Although Christmas is two months away, the U.S. Postal Service wants you to know it already has a holiday stamp ready for letter senders. USPS released the “Virgin and Child” Christmas forever stamp during a dedication ceremony at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston late last month.

U.S. Postal Service Organization Development Vice President Jeremy Utterback said, “I am honored to represent the Postal Service as we dedicate a Christmas stamp that features one of the most revered images in the world — the Virgin Mary holding her infant child, Jesus. It’s a beautiful piece of art, with particular meaning this time of year. I choose my holiday cards with care, sign them with love or best wishes, and may write a personal note inside. Holiday cards are a special way to connect with family and friends. The stamp on the envelope holds significance as well.” Utterback served as the dedicating official.

Illustrating the sweet bond between a mother and her child, interpretations of the Virgin Mary with Christ as a child take numerous forms in the Christian art of the Italian Renaissance. The stamp depicts “Virgin and Child,” an oil-on-panel painting by an unknown Florentine artist from the first half of the 16th century.

Christmas stamp
U.S. Postal Service

Art historians have long wondered about the artist’s identity and have sometimes associated the painting and similar paintings with the names of numerous 16th-century-figures. Now, scholars attribute this “Virgin and Child” to a Florentine artist who’s been known since the late 1960s as the Master of Scandicci Lamentation. Scholars based the name on similarities in style seen in a painting called “The Lamentation on the Dead Christ,” created for a church in the town of Scandicci, near Florence.

The contemporaries of Italian Renaissance artists often inspired them to imitate their compositions. Scholars think that the artist based the poses of the Virgin Mary and Christ child in this painting on the two central figures in the “Madonna of the Baldacchino.” This painting was an unfinished altarpiece made by the painter Raphael for a church in Florence between 1506 and 1508.

The “Virgin and Child” painting is in the Robert Dawson Evans Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp. The U.S. Postal Service will sell the Virgin and Child stamp in booklets of 20 for $12.

If this stamp doesn’t fit your holiday letters, fret not. The USPS also introduced another holiday stamp in September, named Holiday Elves, which features multiple stamp designs. Other stamps the postal service has announced or teased include a James Webb Space Telescope stamp, a Pony Cars stamp that features a 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302 and other designs, an elephant-themed stamp, a National Marine Sanctuaries stamp, and Buzz Lightyear-themed Go Beyond stamp.

With Christmas coming up in a few months, now is the time to start thinking about your Christmas cards. This new forever stamp is perfect for showing your love for Christ. News of the stamps is being shared with the hashtag #VirginandChildStamps.

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