Luigi Orione was born into a poor family at Pontecurone, Italy, 150 years ago, on June 23, 1872. He became priest and founded the catholic religious congregations ‘Sons of Divine Providence’ (1899) and ‘Little Missionary Sisters of Charity’ (1915). He died on March 12, 1940. On October 26, 1980, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II. Nearly 24 years later, he was canonized by that same pope, on May 16, 2004. He is the Patron Saint of the Abandoned.
On May 16, 2022, the postal administrations of Italy, Vatican and Argentina, but also the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, issued each the same stamp showing a portrait painted by Raul Berzosa (born 1979). Each country issued the stamp in miniature sheets of 4 stamps. Only Argentina issued a smaller square size stamp. The painting shows several symbols related to Don Luigi Orione’s life and holiness. He created several missions abroad, including in Argentina (1921), hence the link with this country.
Mixed first day cover became available the first day, but so far do not include Argentina.
This issue was expected to be released on February 26, 2022 and surprisingly came out two weeks earlier, on February 15, 2022. Uri Barlev (Israel) could confirm that Gibraltar and Israel released on the same day identical stamps showing interiors of churches. Stamps depict the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth and the Nefosut Yehuda Synagogue in Gibraltar. Mixed covers as well as the usual Israel mixed Souvenir Leaf became also available. We are still waiting for additional data from Gibraltar.
This Gibraltar – Israel joint issue eventually reaches the market after a first attempt made during the year 2011, more precisely for an issue planned to be released on June 27, 2011, when a first common design was proposed. In Israel, the stamps reached even the printing stage. Despite agreement from both countries, Gibraltar forgot to get in time approval of the design from the British Authorities. Not a recommendation, but a request came from the British Foreign Office to remove the illustration of the Jerusalem’s David Citadel and to substitute it with a landmark from Tel-Aviv. When this request came, it was too late, and the whole print run was destroyed while Gibraltar accepted to reimburse all costs. So, finally, ten years later, we can welcome a now politically acceptable Gibraltar – Israel joint issue. But why having waited so long ?