Seal decided to the first Spanish nurse who was the first woman to participate in an international expedition to eradicate smallpox, one of the deadliest pandemics in history.
This stamp is the third in the collection of stamps of Correos #8MTodoElAño, dedicated to emblematic women in the fight for equality.
All the stamps of this series have been designed by the artist Isa Muguruza, a Spanish illustrator capable of creating a unique universe that empowers, through art, the figure of women; an ode to energy and the female body represented through a style that mixes realism, psychedelia and metaphysical.
Isabel was born in 1771, in a family of farmers of humble origin in the Galician town of Órdenes (A Coruña). She lost several of her siblings when they were little and then her mother, who died of smallpox when she was 13. Although he had always shown a willingness to study, the death of his mother increased his interest in medicine. At the age of 20 he left the countryside and began working as an assistant at the Hospital de la Caridad in A Coruña. Two years later she gave birth to her son Benito Vález, who she raised as a single mother, and, after several years working in the hospital, in 1800 she went on to run an orphanage, in which children abandoned or repudiated by their parents were welcomed. There he barely received just enough to eat and feed his son.
In November 1803, Zendal embarked on the great adventure of his life: the first international sanitary expedition in history. Led by the doctor and surgeon of the court, Francisco Javier Balmis, the mission aimed to take the smallpox vaccine by boat from the port of A Coruña to America. Zendal joined the expedition, dubbed the Royal Philanthropic Vaccine Expedition and funded by King Charles IV (who had lost his daughter to the disease), to care for the 22 children on board inoculated with the virus. Faced with the impossibility of preserving the vaccine, these Galician orphans were chosen to keep the bovine fluid alive and unaltered for which they were successively inoculated arm by arm in the course of navigation.
Although at first it seemed impossible for a woman of the time to be part of such a feat, it was thought that the little ones would need a mother figure during the journey. That is why Zendal was the last to join the humanitarian convoy following the instructions of Balmis, who set for her the same salary as for the rest of the men who traveled on board. The nurse took care of taking care of the children in all aspects during the journey, as well as her son, who also acted as a "living receptacle", which earned her the approval of her superiors who, in the documents of the time, defined her as "selfless rector", "mother of the galleguitos" and "woman of probity".
After arriving in Puerto Rico a month after the departure and soon began another trip to the Philippines with the same objective, in 1809 Zendal and his son settled in Puebla, next to Mexico City, where he lived to date – indeterminate – of his death without ever returning to Spain.
In 1950 the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized Isabel Zendal as the first nurse in history on an international mission and one of the pillars of the expedition. Her story has been reflected in several books, such as A flor de piel, by Javier Moro and in 2016 TVE broadcast Miguel Bardem's film 22 ángeles, in which the Galician actress María Castro gave life to Isabel Zendal. In December 2020, the Isabel Zendal Nurse Hospital was inaugurated in Madrid with the aim of combating the pandemic by caring for patients with coronavirus. For her part, in Mexico she is remembered with affection and there is also a school for nurses that bears her name.
Product of Filatelia Correos, sold and sent by Correos
Printing: Offset in coated, rubberized and phosphorescent support
Seal size: 28.8 x 40.9 mm (vertical).
Postal value of each stamp: € 1.00 (sold in pack of 5)
Publication Date: May 12, 2022
Circulation: 135,000 stamps
Product exempt from VAT.