The reign of Pius XII produced a plethora of definitives due to the runaway inflation that gripped postwar Italy. Ordinary postage series were issued in 1945, 1946, 1949, and 1953. The face value of these sets (exclusive of special delivery stamps) rose more than 1200 percent, from 30.85 lire in 1945 to 380 lire in 1953.
The Council of Trent stamps, issued on February 12, 1946, are often classed both as definitives and commemoratives. Despite the fact that they were printed during a severe shortage of paper, ink, and skilled press operators, they are often regarded as the most beautiful Vatican series of all time.
The last of Pius XII's definitives, the Builder-Popes of St. Peter's definitive set released on April 23, 1953, was also the last issue designed by the incomparable Professor Corrado Mezzana. An accomplished painter and member of the Pontifical Academy of Arts and Letters, Mezzana's first work for the Vatican was the 1935 Juridical Congress issue. From then until his death on September 15, 1952, he designed nearly every Vatican stamp issued-an eighteen-year monopoly that no other artist has ever enjoyed. Mezzana's designs, as executed by the engravers of the Italian State Printing Works, are masterpieces of modern stamp art.