December 14, 2014

1357 ITALY (Lazio) - Via della Luce in Rome

Via della Luce (the Way of Light) is a street in the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome, which took its name from the church of Santa Maria della Luce (Saint Mary of the Light). It was previously named Via delle Rimesse (the Way of Remittances), and also Via dei Morticelli. It received the current name following a miraculous event which took place in the year 1730. Legend has it that in a house located in the nearby alley Due Mole, which had on a outer wall an image of Madonna and Child, a blind man cried out for help because he heard noises like falling masonry. Suddenly the man "saw" on the wall the image of the Virgin surrounded by light and went out crying, mad with joy, "Light, light!" The image became the object of great devotion, and ultimately was detached from the wall of the house and transported in the church of St. Salvatore (Holy Saviour), which was rebuilt and dedicated to St. Mary of the Light.

Beyond the history of this street, the postcard is remarkable because of the stamps and the postmark from the back. Both belong to the Order of Malta (officialy named Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta), the modern continuation of the original medieval order of Saint John of Jerusalem, known as the "Fraternitas Hospitalaria" and later as the Knights Hospitaller, a group founded in Jerusalem around the year 1050 as an Amalfitan hospital to provide care for poor and sick pilgrims to the Holy Land. After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 during the First Crusade, it became a military order under its own charter. Following the loss of territories of the Holy Land, the order operated from Rhodes (1310-1523), and later from Malta (1530-1798), over which it was sovereign. Although it came to an end with its ejection by Napoleon Bonaparte, it though survived.

The order describes itself as a "sovereign subject of international law", and is notable for issuing its own international passports for travel, postal stamps, along with its formal insignia, often portrayed as a white or gold Maltese cross. The order nominally invokes the Blessed Virgin Mary as its patroness and spiritual intercessor. Today the order has 3 citizens (the grand master, the lieutenant grand master, and the chancellor), about 13,000 members, 80,000 permanent volunteers, and 20,000 medical personnel in more than 120 countries. The goal is to assist the elderly, handicapped, refugeed, children, homeless, those with terminal illness and leprosy, without distinction of race or religion. SMOM has formal diplomatic relations with 105 states, and official relations with another six countries and the European Union. Since 1834, the Order settled in Rome, where owns, with extraterritorial status, the Magistral Palace in Via Condotti 68 and the Magistral Villa on the Aventine Hill. In 2001 was ratified a treaty with the Government of Malta, which grants to the Order the use with limited extraterritoriality of the upper portion of Fort St Angelo in the city of Birgu for 99 years.

About the stamps
The SMOM coins (Maltese scudo) are appreciated more for their subject matter than for their use as currency, but its postage stamps have been gaining acceptance among Universal Postal Union member nations. The SMOM began issuing euro-denominated postage stamps in 2005, although the scudo remains its official currency. 56 countries recognize SMOM stamps for franking purposes, including those such as Canada and Mongolia, that lack diplomatic relations with the Order.

The stamps on the postcard are part of the series Octogonal Cross, issued on April 15, 2014, under the number 459. The six stamps depicts a white eight-pointed cross in a shield of red:
• 0.05 EUR
• 0.10 EUR - it's on the postcard
• 0.70 EUR
• 0.85 EUR - it's on the postcard
• 1.75 EUR
• 1.90 EUR
• 5.35 EUR
The Maltese cross, in Italy also known as the Amalfi cross, is the cross symbol associated with the Knights of Malta and by extension with the island of Malta. The cross is eight-pointed and has the form of four "V"-shaped elements, each joining the others at its vertex, leaving the other two tips spread outward symmetrically. Its design is based on crosses used since the First Crusade. It is also the modern symbol of Amalfi, a small Italian republic of the 11th century.

This is a post for Sunday Stamps #200, run by Viridian from Viridian’s Postcard Blog. The theme of this week is Anything you wish. Click on the button to visit Viridian’s blog and all the other participants.

Via della Luce - Roma Segreta
Order of Malta - Official website
Sovereign Military Order of Malta - Wikipedia

Sender: Carmen
Sent from Order of Malta (Rome / Italy), on 01.12.2014
Photo: Claudio Corrivetti


  1. Very interesting information about the stamps.

  2. I am always interested in learning more about Malta as my elder brother served on aircraft carriers that helped in the island's defence during WWII, Fine stamps.

  3. Interesting!!! I did not know any of this!! thank you for participating.

  4. The stamp information is fascinating, I did not know they had their own currency.