Saturday, February 17, 2024

First saints on regular euro coins of EU member state

Bulgaria will be the first EU member state with national saints as a motif on regular euro coins. 

The patron saint of the Bulgarians, Ivan Rilski, will appear on the 1-euro coin and the monk Païssi of Hilandar on the 2-euro coin, the Bulgarian National Bank announced at the beginning of the week after the process of coordinating and approving the coin designs had been completed. announced. 

The two depicted are saints of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Bulgaria is expected to join the eurozone on 1 January 2025.

Ivan Rilski (876-946) was the first Bulgarian hermit and founded the country's largest monastery in the Rila Mountains. 

Since 1999, he has been depicted on the 1 lev coin that was in circulation until the introduction of the euro. 

Païssi of Hilandar (1722-1773) is considered the first historian of his nation and a pioneer of the Bulgarian National Revival of the 18th and 19th centuries. Ivan is depicted on the coin with habit, cross and halo, Païssi is not recognisable as a monk and saint.

Conflicts over Cyril, Methodius and the Pantocrator

At the beginning of February, the Council of the European Union approved the designs for the coins after no objections were received from EU member states in the eurozone. 

In the past, coin designs with Christian motifs had met with reservations. 

In 2013, Slovakia was only able to issue a 2-euro commemorative coin with the Slavic apostles Cyril and Methodius because France and Greece, among others, had objected to the crosses and halos in the motif. 

In the end, the originally planned design could be minted. In the same year, the European Commission rejected the planned depiction of Christ as Pantocrator on Andorran coins. 

In contrast, the Vatican also issued a 2-euro coin with the statue of Christ for World Youth Day in Rio in 2013. 

The objections to the coins from Andorra and Slovakia were based on violations of the principle of religious neutrality. 

The procedure for the approval of EU coins does not specify any criteria for the content, but gives EU member states the opportunity to raise reasoned objections.

The only other national saint on euro coins is St Marinus of Rimini, who is depicted on the 20 cent pieces from San Marino. San Marino belongs to the eurozone, but is not a member of the EU. 

The coins issued during his lifetime and before his canonisation are still valid.

Canonisation coins from the Vatican with the portrait of Pope John Paul II, which were put into circulation during his lifetime and before his canonisation, are still valid, as are the Apostle Paul (Vatican, 2 euros), the Irish apostle Brendan (Ireland, 10 euros) and Charlemagne (Germany, 2 euros).