Pius XII's pontificate was the most troubled of the twentieth century, spanning as it did the Second World War, the rebuilding of Europe, and the early years of the Cold War. The war years saw very few stamp issues, owing to the curtailment of postal services and severe shortages of paper. Those stamps that were printed saw widespread use on mail emanating from the Vatican Office of Information, a worldwide communications network that helped families locate relatives who were being held as detainees or prisoners of war.
Following the war, inflation and the widespread use of airmail led to an increase in the number of stamps issued. Many of them bore designs heavily influenced by world political events, especially the Cold War.