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Papal Euro set for circulation

Following a 1998 agreement between the Council of Ministers of the European Union, the Vatican's Philatelic and Numismatic Office is releasing Vatican euro coins to coincide with the wider launch of the Euro notes and coins next month throughout the European Union.

The Vatican coins have been designed by Italian sculptor Guido Veroi. One side of the Vatican coin will be like that of the rest of the European countries, but the other will have the Pope's image, facing left.

Vatican euros will not include notes, as the agreements between Italy and the Vatican state, adopted when the Vatican lira came into circulation in 1929, did not foresee this possibility.

The decision to imprint the bas-relief of the Pontiff's image on European coins was adopted according to the same criterion that allows European monarchies to coin money with their sovereigns' image.

Together with the Vatican, the principality of Monaco and the republic of San Marino have also established agreements with European authorities to mint special versions of the euro. According to the agreement, the Vatican will be able to coin a maximum of 670,000 euros a year. The minting will take place with the cooperation of Italy's Casa della Moneta.

There will be a total of eight coins valued at 1, 2, 4, 10, 50 cents of the euro, and coins of 1 and 2 euros.

A euro is currently worth $A1.74.