Vatican euro coins have been struck annually in small numbers and due to these mintage figures command significant premiums among coin collectors, Numismaster reports. Few if any ever get into circulation.
When Pope John Paul II died in 2005, by tradition the Vatican issued coins prior to the election of the new pope.
This interim coinage carries the legend "Sede Vacante". This coinage is followed by coins for the new pope once the new pope's election has been finalized.
During April 2005, Sede Vacante coins were issued depicting the heraldry of the Cardinal Chamberlain Camerlingo and the Apostolic Camera.
On Dec. 19, 2008, the Commission of the European Communities issued a not so subtle recommended common guideline for the national side of circulation euro coinage.
Article 5, titled "Changes to the national side of regular euro coins intended for circulation" reads: "... the designs used for the national sides of the euro coins intended for circulation denominated in euro or in cent should not be modified, except in cases where the head of state referred to on a coin changes.
"A temporary vacancy or the provisional occupation of the function of head of state should not give the right to change the national sides of the regular euro coins intended for circulation."
Vatican officials have said the Sede Vacante coinage was issued to "ensure continuity by exercising the state's authority to mint coins."
But European Union finance ministers want to put a stop to the practice.
They issued a statement in February this year saying that "euro coins intended for circulation should be put into circulation at face value," adding, "A temporary vacancy or the provisional occupation of the function of [a] head of state should not give the right to change the national sides of the regular euro coins."
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