Slovakia will issue its commemorative Euro depicting two Christian saints later this week, nearly two months after the coins were expected to roll out.
First set to be released in May, the coins depicting Cyril and Methodius faced an unexpected delay last winter when the European Commission intervened. The European Commission, which is the EU's governing branch, told the National Bank of Slovakia (NBS) last year that it would need to re-design the coins and remove religious symbols, including halos and a cross-adorned stole.
The NBS said it would comply with the Commission's order, though iconography and art of canonized saints traditionally includes halos. The two men, who were missionaries to the Slavs in the ninth century, are recognized as saints by Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican churches.
NBS says the final design of the Euros, which will begin circulating July 5, "represents a dignified joining of two symbols—the symbol of statehood and the symbol of Christianity. The Slovak double cross on three peaks and the bishop's crozier held by Methodius are depicted as one and the same."
The Slovakian coin design has been in the works for many years, since the design—including the original cross—was one of the finalists when Slovakia issued its coins in 2009.
A statement from the Commission explains that "member states are required to take into account that the coins will circulate throughout the whole eurozone. In that context, proposed designs are shared in advance with other member states so that they can provide any comments they deem appropriate."
CT previously has reported on a similar situation that arose in Italy in 2003, when a judge ruled that classrooms should remove all crucifix imagery. Italians were upset about the decision at the time, and one government official even declared that "'it is unacceptable that one judge should cancel out millennia of history.'"