Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Franco's Welsh Postage Stamp

Here's a cultural curiosity that'll make your average Welsh philatelist go weak at the knees.

In 1971, with General Franco still at the helm, Spain issued a postage stamp featuring St David's Cathedral. The blue, 3 pesetas, horizontal stamp clearly shows one of Wales' best known landmarks. So what was a Spanish fascist regime doing issuing stamps with Welsh buildings on?

Well, 1971 marked the Holy Year of Compestela, a celebration of Santiago de Compestela, a cathedral in northern Spain. The bones of Saint James are supposed to be buried there so it has always been something of a magnet for pilgrims. In the Middle-Ages many of these pilgrimages started out from St David's in Dyfed and when they reached Santiago de Compestela it is said the pilgrims sang in front of the altar to the accompaniment of the Welsh harp.

The stamp commemorates the link. So now you know.