As with his definitive issues, Benedict XVI's commemoratives are marked by the Vatican's usual characteristics: high quality of design and production, limited print runs, and themes relevant to religion, history, and art. The 2005 Europa issues feature fishes painted on ceramic plates by Pablo Picasso, from the collections of the Vatican Museums. This was a highly creative response to that year's Europa theme, gastronomy, on the part of a state with no distinctive national cuisine.
Other commemorative stamps — many of them joint issues — have emphasized Vatican City's ties to other historically Catholic countries on the European continent, including France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Malta, and Hungary. This reflects the pope's desire to restore the vitality of Christianity in a largely secular Europe. When he selected the name Benedict in 2005, the pope explained that his name was meant to "recall Saint Benedict of Nursia, co-patron of Europe, whose life evokes the Christian roots of Europe." In particular, most of the annual Christmas stamps during Benedict XVI's reign have been a joint issue with another European nation.