The hidden date for this stamp can be found on Madonna's robe.
In a follow-up to our sacred Domestic, U.S., and International Christmas stamps of 2011, this single depiction of the Madonna and Child in stained glass is our traditional Christmas stamp for 2012.
This image is from one of the more than 150-year-old stained glass windows at St. Mary’s of the Immaculate Concept Cathedral in Kingston, Ontario.
The subject of Madonna and Child has been part of Christian art for almost two millennia. The earliest recorded appearance of Mary and the baby Jesus is found in a 3rd century wall painting in the Catacomb of Priscilla, in Rome. Since the Madonna is seldom mentioned in the Gospels, early religious artists were inspired by traditions of the time and a significant mid-2nd century apocryphal manuscript, the Protevangelium (or Infancy Gospel) of James, which describes Mary’s childhood and Jesus’ early life. As Christianity spread—and religious leaders emphasized the emotional aspects of Mary’s role in the life of Christ—her image grew less formal and representational, and more human and maternal.
Originating with both the Romans and the Egyptians, the creation of colour glass was adopted by Christian churches of the 4th and 5th centuries. Artisans created windows filled with thinly-sliced alabaster set into wooden frames to give a stained-glass like effect. It was used most extensively in the Middle Ages, as a means of communicating bible stories to a mostly illiterate population.