VATICAN CITY – The Vatican's version of the new euro coin may be heaven-sent but some very earthly snags will delay its advent until sometime next month, a Vatican spokesman said on Thursday.
The Vatican, a 108-acre (44-hectare) walled city-state surrounded by Rome, has designed its own set of 670,000 euro coins which will be valid throughout the 12-nation euro zone.
But delays in the distribution of the Italian version of the euro are holding up the Vatican's pennies from heaven because Italy is responsible for their production.
"There are some technical problems...first they have to get the Italian euro in circulation, then comes the Vatican euro," the Holy See spokesman told Reuters.
Italy has had difficulties getting the new notes and coins into circulation and in terms of actual cash transactions in the new coinage, was bottom of the class among the 12 countries that introduced the euro, the European Commission says.
On Wednesday, the first working day since the introduction of the money on Jan. 1, only three percent of cash transactions were conducted entirely in the common currency in Italy compared with 50 percent in France and the Netherlands.
The Vatican euros, which will feature an up-to-date profile of Pope John Paul, who is 81 and in the 24th year of his papacy, are expected to be snapped up by collectors.
Existing Vatican coins are denominated in lire and feature an image of the Pope when he was younger.