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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 November 2007, 05:05 GMT
Church welcomes religious stamps
The Madonna and Child Second Class Stamp
The Royal Mail has returned to Christian images for 2007
The Church of England has welcomed the Royal Mail's return to a religious theme for its 2007 Christmas stamps.

The collection of eight stamps is illustrated with pictures of angels or the Madonna and Child.

The Church was critical last year about the absence of Christian images on the stamps' designs and urged Royal Mail to use religious themes every year.

Royal Mail said it alternated between secular and religious themes and plans for 2008 were already in place.

Next year's collection is expected to feature classic pantomime characters, a Royal Mail spokesman said.

"Royal Mail alternates annually between secular and religious Christmas stamps.

"Last year featured a series of winter wonderland images, so this year features angels and the Madonna and Child."

Christina Baxter, chairwoman of the House of Laity of the Church of England's General Synod, said of the Madonna and Child image on a first-class stamp: "I very much welcome an explicitly Christian theme for that particular stamp.

First class stamp
The Church of England wants to see Christian stamps used every year

"Although the others are not to my personal taste, I nevertheless welcome stamps that carry values that are explicitly Christian, and I hope they will produce Christian stamps next year too at Christmas."

The Church has argued that Christian-themed designs "remind people of the true meaning of Christmas".

The first edition of Royal Mail Christmas stamps was launched in 1966 with the design chosen from more than 5,000 entries in a competition for schoolchildren.

Two billion letters are expected to be sent over the festive period, and 17 December is expected to be the busiest day of the year, with a predicted 123m items passing through the postal system.

Royal Mail's last recommended posting dates for UK mail are 18 December for second-class items, 20 December for first class and 21 December for special delivery items.

For airmail items to Western Europe, the last recommended posting date is 13 December, for Eastern Europe, the USA, Canada and Japan it is 10 December, and for the rest of the world the deadline is 7 December.



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