Britain's First Ever Christmas Coin Features Jesus In Nativity Scene

The UK's first official Christmas coin, designed by Bishop of St Asaph Gregory CameronRoyal Mint

An Anglican bishop in Wales has designed the Royal Mint's first official UK Christmas coin.

Bishop of St Asaph Gregory Cameron, besides being a keen artist and coin collector, is also one of the Anglican Communion's leading experts on Eastern Christianity.

The Christmas coin depicts the three Magi, or wise men from the East, bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

The new Christmas coin depicts the MagiRoyal Mint

Cameron is already renowned worldwide in the esoteric field of numismatics, or the study and collection of coins.

He designed the reverse of the last 'round pound' earlier this year after winning a competition run by The Royal Mint.

And last year, he represented the Archbishop of Canterbury at a special ceremony in Beiruit, where Catholicos Aram I of the Armenian Orthodox Church of the See of Cilicia blessed the Holy Oil – or myrrh. 

Cameron has always been interested in heraldry and art, and began designing coats of arms and collecting pennies as a child.

Writing a blog about his passion, he said: "One of the nicest coins in my collection is an Alexander the Great Tetradrachm. When you look at that coin and think 'this was minted 2,500 years ago', you can't help but wonder."

Of the Christmas coin, he added: "While Christmas is based on a Christian story it is a festival for everyone; a time when we celebrate the affinity and closeness in our own families and beyond, and wish goodwill to all people."

He told Christian Today that his expertise in coin design was a "childhood love turned good". He chose the images of the Magi for the Christmas coin because, although not strictly 'Nativity' because their journey took so long they arrived well after Christ was actually born, they've always been his favourite part of the story. 

Bishop Gregory Cameron took this photograph last summer of Catholicos Aram I of the Armenian Orthodox Church of the See of Cilicia, getting ready to bless the Holy Oil, or Myron. It's a rite performed every seven years. Myron, or myrrh, was one of the gifts to the Christ child from the Magi that Cameron's Christmas coin depicts.Bishop Gregory Cameron

The coin is a solid silver £20 piece and is part of festive traditions that go back centuries, such as stirring a sixpence into the Christmas pudding for good luck.

Legend has it that St Nicholas himself would climb down the chimneys of the poor to fill their daughters' stockings with silver coins, thereby starting the practice where on Christmas Eve, children hang stockings on the mantelpiece hoping to find a coin there on Christmas morning. 

The Royal Mint will issue 30,000 of the limited edition Christmas coin, in a specially designed booklet with space to note down favourite moments of 2016 and wishes for 2017.

In May this year, The Royal Mint opened a new visitor centre, The Royal Mint Experience, at its headquarters in Llantrisant, South Wales – not far from the St Asaph diocese of Bishop Cameron in north-east Wales.