Giorgione: Adoration of the Shepherds
"In 1971, an incredible 1.2 billion copies of a single postage stamp were printed by the U.S. Postal Service. It was the largest stamp printing order in the world since postage stamps were first introduced in 1840. It was almost ten times larger that the usual printing of an American commemorative stamp. The stamp was one of two Christmas stamps issued that year. It depicted a Nativity scene by the Italian painter Giorgio Giorgione, Adoration of the Shepherds, and portrayed Mary, Joseph, the Christ Child, and two shepherds."*
The Postal Service probably picked Giorgione’s “Adoration of the Shepherds” because it was one of the most prized possessions of Washington's National Gallery. The scene is so familiar that it is easy to overlook its real meaning. Over a year ago I discussed the meaning of the painting to Giorgione's Venetian contemporaries but on another level it has a universal meaning.
This King is not protected by armed guards. There is no need to bribe or otherwise court influence with bureaucrats acting as intermediaries. Anyone, even the simplest and the humblest, can approach this King directly and in his or her own fashion.
Merry Christmas to all.
* M.W. Martin: “Christmas in Stamps,” in Catholic Digest Christmas Book, ed. Father Kenneth Ryan, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1977.