Every year since 1966, Great Britain’s Royal Mail has issued a special set of Christmas stamps. And this year’s featured art may look vaguely familiar to many Latter-day Saints.
Jorge Cocco Santángelo, an 85-year-old Latter-day Saint convert from Argentina, has been selected as the featured artist for Great Britain’s 2021 Royal Mail Christmas stamp collection.
In 2018, an exhibit of Cocco’s unique “sacrocubism” art was featured at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City. You can see images from the exhibit here. His work has also been featured in the Come, Follow Me curriculum and various Church magazine articles.
According to his son Amiel, Cocco was contacted by directly by a Royal Mail representative in September 2020 who asked if he would like to submit a piece to be considered for the stamp collection. Cocco then created a piece titled Madonna and Child and was immediately accepted as the artist for the whole set of stamps.
Cocco worked with very strict timelines and collaborated with art and religious experts until the collection was completed in January 2021. He and his family have been aware of Royal Mail’s decision to feature his artwork this Christmas season for over a year, but they were asked not to publish or share any information about it until Royal Mail made the official announcement on November 2, 2021.
“It was hard to keep quiet for over a year knowing how exciting this was,” Cocco told LDS Living.
The six Nativity-themed art pieces include the Madonna and Child, Host of Angels, The Magi’s Travel, Mary and Joseph Travel to Bethlehem, Shepherd in the Field, and The Birth of Jesus. Each of these pieces, plus various background art pieces for the collector’s sheets, are brand new and exclusive to Royal Mail for this stamp collection. According to Cocco’s website, Her Majesty The Queen approves all UK stamp designs before they are issued to the public. And while Cocco is grateful for the increased visibility of his work, he is humbled and grateful for the opportunity.
“It is a great honor to have been selected as the artist for Royal Mail's Christmas 2021 stamp collection,” Cocco said. “However, this is not about me, it is rather about Christ. I feel humble that I could collaborate in the spreading of the ministry of Christ [and] … His birth. To me it is a responsibility and satisfaction to be able to contribute to such an important message for humanity: Jesus the Christ was born, and He lives.”
Scroll down to see photos of all six new stamps below.