|Vatican Sells Stamps to Fund Restoration|
|Resource:nytimes 2012-12-03 15:26:56|
ROME — As its corporate sponsors continue to feel the pinch of the financial crisis, the Vatican has taken an unprecedented step and is appealing directly to tourists and collectors to help finance the restoration of Bernini’s 17th-century colonnade in St. Peter’s Square by buying limited edition stamps.
The Vatican’s Philatelic and Numismatic Office is offering a souvenir sheet of two 10-euro stamps that could raise 3 million euros for the project, if all 150,000 are sold.
“Fund-raising wasn’t going very well,” said the office’s director, Mauro Olivieri, who came up with the idea for the stamps this year after officials in various Vatican departments were invited to suggest initiatives to help pay for the colonnade’s restoration. The cleanup began in 2009 and was expected to take four years, but the work began to lag when funds dwindled.
The elegant elliptical colonnade, which draws visitors to St. Peter’s Basilica, took Gian Lorenzo Bernini more than a decade to design and build. He conceived it, he said, “to give an open-armed, maternal welcome to all Catholics.”
The restoration involves cleaning 284 columns, set in rows of four, as well as the 140 statues of saints along the balustrade above, sundry marble decorations, and the two 17th-century fountains on either side of the Egyptian obelisk in the center of the square.
As of this month, visitors to the square can find a large panel on one side of the colonnade, inviting them to “restore the colonnade with a stamp,” an unusual form of direct advertising for the Vatican, Mr.
Olivieri said. “They’re trying to get the message across to as many people as much as possible,” he added.