Christ to feature on Malta's euro coins

Valletta, Malta - Malta has chosen the figure of Christ for its euro coins, officials announced, after a vote which reflected the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic island's strong Christian heritage.

The voters in a telephone poll to decide the design chose "The Baptism of Christ," a scupture by late baroque artist Giuseppe Mazzuoli which stands in the capital's St John's Cathedral.

Some denominations of the euro will feature Malta's coat of arms and the Mediterranean island's prehistoric Mnajdra temple.

"Almost 17,000 people felt they should participate in the decision making process of choosing the face of our new currency," said finance minstry official Tonino Fenech after the results of the 10-day telephone poll was announced.

Malta's 400,000 population had been presented with a shortlist of images by a committee set up by the finance ministry.

"The Baptism of Christ" topped the poll with 3,498 votes, said Fenech.

Fenech said however that another popular choice not on the original shortlist, the eight-pointed Maltese Cross, may yet feature on coins.