New stamps commemorate Pope Benedict's visit to Holy Land

 To commemorate Pope Benedict's visit to the Holy Land, the Israel Postal Company has released a special 'My Own Stamp' personalised stamp sheet, together with a superb "Israel Welcomes Pope Benedict XVI" souvenir booklet.

The lables adjoining the stamps in the sheet and the photographs in the booklet, show magnificent pictures of the Holy Places visited by countless Christian pilgrims over the centuries. The 12 places are as follows: Grotto of the Annunciation, Nazareth; The Sea of Galilee; Church of the Dormition, Jerusalem; Church of the Primacy of St Peter; Church of the Transfiguration; Church of the Beatitudes; The Rotunda of the Tomb in the Holy Sepulchre; Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth; Church of the Holy Sepulchre; Gethsemane - Church of All Nations; The Garden of Gethsemane; The Cenacle - Room of the Last Supper.

This correspondent has been privileged to work with the Israel Philatelic Service, based in Tel Aviv, on the souvenir set project. Thoughtfully designed to look like stained glass and old parchment, the booklet includes Biblical texts selected from the Jerusalem Bible and short descriptions of the Holy Places. These have been carefully translated into Hebrew and the booklet includes both the English and Hebrew text together.

The printing of the stamp sheet and booklet, a wonderful memento of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, was limited to just 10,000 numbered copies.

The non-denominational, definitive "Blue and White" stamp, as it is known, showing the sea and the word 'Israel in Hebrew written in the sand, was first issued on 27 August 2007. It is valid for inland postage only throughout Israel - at present NIS 1.60, for letters weighing up to 50 grams.

A second 'My Own Stamp' sheet will be released - shortly after the Papal Visit - in the same format as the first sheet and this will include photographs taken during the visit. A special souvenir booklet - also written by this correspondent - will include quotes from the addresses and sermons given by Pope Benedict XVI.

The price of both the individual sheet of stamps is NIS 37, while the commemorative stamp booklets, with the sheets includes, is NIS 49.

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