Mario Mauro, leader of the Italian People of Freedom Party (PDL)
, one of the parties that form part of the the European People’s Party (EPP), stressed that the EU flag has twelve golden stars that form a circle set against a blue backdrop. The number of stars has nothing to do with the number of EU states but is an ancient numeric symbol that stands for harmony and solidarity. A competition was held in order to choose the flag and French Catholic designer Arsène Heitz won.
Heitz was inspired by the “Miraculous Medal” he wore around his neck: a medal named after apparition of the Virgin Mary to St Catherine Laboure in 1830. It was the Virgin Mary who told the nun to have twelve stars struck on the medal, in representation of the the stars on the crown worn by the woman in the Book of Revelation. Saint Bernadette Soubirous also had a necklace made of tin and string around her neck when the Virgin Mary appeared to her on 11 February 1858, dressed in white and blue.
Arsène Heitz did not reveal the symbol’s biblical origin (he only did so later on), but claimed the number twelve was meant to symbolise ancient wisdom, a “symbol of completeness”. This interpretation stuck and the number was confirmed in the constitutional treaty. So the European flag has a powerful Christian and Marian significance.