Tanzania celebrates two holy popes

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April 3, 2014 – In the millennia-long history of the Roman-Catholic Church, this will be a first: two popes will be canonized simultaneously. On this occasion, Tanzania issues a coin designed by Coin Invest Trust in several editions, one of them in partly gilded silver.

Tanzania / 1000 Shillings / 925 silver / 38.61mm / 20g / Mintage: 1,000.

On the obverse you can see the official coat of arms of the issuing state, Tanzania, above the name Tanzania and below, the face value, 1000 shillings. On the reverse appear the matted bust portraits of the two Popes against the background of St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square. John XXIII (left) and John Paul II (right) face the onlooker frontally, their heads are surrounded by halos with manually applied leaf gilding. The upper rim mentions the coinage’s occasion, the canonization. The exergue reads the names of the two Popes in English, divided by a line and a cross, below the year of issue, 2014. There are also similarly designed editions in antique finish and gilded copper.

Tanzania / 1500 Shillings / 9999 gold / 11mm / 0.5g / Mintage: 15,000.

Additionally Tanzania issues also a gold coin with a slightly different reverse. The coins are minted by B.H. Mayer’s Kunstprägeanstalt GmbH.

Canonization is a procedure within Roman-Catholic Church law which officially confirms that a person has either died in self-sacrifice for their faith, lived especially virtuously or provably performed a miracle. This complicated procedure can take up to several decades and usually beatification comes before canonization.

During the Olympic Games in Rome, in 1960, Pope John XXIII blesses the participants. Source: Nationaal Archief Fotocollectie Anefo / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en

The name given to Pope John XXIII by the people, “papa buono” (“Good Pope”), is proof of his popularity. In 1962, John XXIII called the so-called Second Vatican Council to modernise the Catholic Church. His going to the Italian province caused a stir – after all, no Pope had left Rome for more than 150 years. John’s XXIII attempts to mediate between US President John F. Kennedy and USSR head of state Nikita Khrushchev during the Cold War, as well as his famous encyclical “Pacem in Terris” (“Peace on Earth”) were a clear sign of his efforts to establish peace. “Papa buono” died in 1963, the beatification process began seven years later and was only completed in 2000.

US President Ronald Reagan and his wife meet John Paul II in the Vatican, in 1982. Photo: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

John Paul II is above all famous for his extensive travels. During his 27-years long papacy, one of the longest in ecclesiastical history, he travelled 127 countries. Many journeys, for instance the one to his home country Poland, had a political dimension as he undertook it with the intention to strengthen resistance against communism. Technically, the beatification process can only be opened at least 5 years after the death of the candidate, but Benedict XVI advocated the cause of his predecessor, who had been immensely popular with the faithful. Only weeks after the death of John Paul II in 2005, the beatification process was opened and in late 2011, the deceased Pope was added to the list of saints.
In 2013, the Vatican recognised a healing by John Paul II as a miracle and cleared the path for canonization. The Pope did not insist on this requirement with regard to John XXIII. Both deceased Popes will be canonized on 27 April 2014 in Rome.

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This historical footage shows the coronation of Pope John XXIII.

And here John Paul II is presented as the new Pope.