Praise 'Lesus'? Vatican pulls misspelled coins
The Vatican made a little error on its new medal made in honor of Pope Francis.
October 11th, 2013
11:18 AM ET

Praise 'Lesus'? Vatican pulls misspelled coins

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor

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(CNN) - For the love of "Lesus," the Vatican needs a copy editor - preferably an infallible one.

In honor of the first year of Pope Francis' papacy, the Vatican issued a commemorative medal Tuesday. The coin-size medals are sold in Vatican City and usually provide a steady stream of revenue for the church.

Just one problem: The Vatican misspelled the name of Jesus on the medal.

One side depicts Francis and the other a biblical phrase in Latin: Vidit ergo Lesus publicanum et quia miserando atque eligendo vidit, ait illi sequere me.

The phrase means: Jesus, therefore, saw the tax collector, and because he saw, by having mercy and by choosing, He said to him, "Follow me."

Except the tax collector on this particular coin is part of the heretofore unknown Lesus Movement.

The Vatican said the Latin phrase profoundly affected the future Pope Francis at age 17 when he heard God calling him to the priesthood. In his native Argentina and in his nascent papacy, Francis has made a point of ministering to people on the margins and preaching about mercy.

MORE ON CNN: Pope Francis: Church can't 'interfere' with gays

But when the Vatican drew up the medal, it flubbed the Latin phrase, said spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi. (It's worth noting that Latin doesn't have a "J," so maybe we should cut the Vatican a bit of slack.)

Lombardi said the Vatican is to blame for the mishap, saying the error was made "in the preparation, not the execution."

The Italian Minting Institute made about 6,000 of the "Lesus" medals and retrieved all but three or four, according to media reports, which means a few folks are holding onto some pretty valuable mistakes.

Others are having fun with the misspelled phrase on social media, with some blaming the "Lesuits" and others asking "What would Lesus do?"

Lesus wept.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Business • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Money & Faith • Pope Francis

soundoff (324 Responses)
  1. Sean Breheny

    Did anyone else notice that CNN introduced THREE more spelling mistakes of their own in their transcription of the medal's inscription? et=>ey, atque=> antque, seqeure=>sequre

    October 11, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
  2. ME II

    @Mr. Burke,
    "... preferably an infallible one."

    How long have you been saving that one?


    October 11, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • CNN Belief Blog Co-EditorCNN

      Not sure what you mean, ME II. That was a spur-of-the-moment phrase.

      October 12, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  3. cthulhu78

    Lesus?! That's a funny way to spell Jeebus!

    October 11, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  4. EuphoriCrest

    Funny. Jesus wasn't even his real name. It was Yehoshua. "Jesus" actually is Greek for "Hail Zeus." So today's Christians are actually honoring a pagan god every time they pray to Jesus.

    October 11, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • David

      Ἰησοῦς does not mean "Hail Zeus."

      October 11, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
      • EuphoriCrest

        Perhaps you're right. I have found (seemingly) credible sources that support both views. Maybe it was a transliteration from Mexico: Hey, Zeus!. Anyway, I shouldn't have posted as fact unless I know it to be true. Best.

        October 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  5. Ace

    A gold coin too sell for the church?

    Isn't that wrong in itself?

    October 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • nathanbrazil

      Well it is not a coin. It is a medal, sold at Vatican gift shops. And not made of gold. So you are kind of wrong on all counts.

      October 11, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
  6. Brian


    October 11, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
  7. Honey Badger Don't Care

    What? They cant miracle the typo to be fixed?

    October 11, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  8. The Syed Atheist

    Reblogged this on The Syed Atheist and commented:
    Uh oh..

    October 11, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • RC

      Why? Oh, and, who cares?

      October 11, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  9. ionymous

    This story should be as newsworthy as McDonalds having a typo on their Happy Meal packaging. But then, that WOULD be deemed newsworthy too. People are stoopid.

    October 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  10. Mark

    Kinda bad when you misspell the boss's name.

    October 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  11. Apple Bush

    You just can't find good help these days!

    October 11, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  12. JC

    Oh Jebus.

    October 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  13. mikes

    The article tells you there's no "J" in Latin. What it doesn't tell you, but should, is that in Latin the name is "IESVS." (Latin doesn't have lower case letters, either).

    October 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
  14. CommonSensed

    Golden calf...golden pope coins.

    Idolators all.

    October 11, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • nathanbrazil

      But...it does not have the pope on it. And how is commemorating a passage idolatry?

      October 11, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
  15. joncraft84

    I think this is an act from the Devil himself. It is a good thing they caught it! I bet the Devil wasn't so happy when they did so. But I bet the Lord was dancing in Heaven. Saying haha, I beat you again Devil. The Lord always tries to find a way to win over the Devil, and in this case he did.

    October 11, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • TR

      Jon, the battle isn't between God and Satan as Satan is a created being and has no power over God. Always remember the battle is between us and Satan. He is here to lie, cheat and steal from us and that is why we have a Savior for our victory.

      October 11, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
      • snowboarder

        or so the story goes, but it is certainly not very believable.

        October 11, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      So your gods are petty and childish. Good to know.

      October 11, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • snowboarder


      October 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Mabus

      Well they are still spelling it wrong. "Jesus" isn't his name either it's Yahushua or Joshua in English.

      October 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
      • joncraft84

        Wow you actually at least taught me something today, thank you for that information.

        October 11, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
        • Mabus

          You're welcome 🙂

          October 11, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • PushingBack

      Yes, yes, the battle of good and evil over all the universe was waged via these coins. So if God fights the devil in these small ways why doesn't God just wipe the devil out of existence?

      October 11, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
      • TR

        Good question! Although it may be hard for all of us to understand God's plan, God is using Satan at this point for His purpose. It is already written that Satan will be wiped out when God's purpose for him is complete.

        October 11, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
      • Mark

        So these are Vatican pogs?

        October 11, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  16. Jim terwiliger

    Jesus Medals

    atheism forever

    October 11, 2013 at 11:48 am |
  17. Universe

    Quran says (Islamic Scripture)

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is. [19:35]

    “No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “Recall that your Lord said to the angels, "I am placing a representative on Earth." They said, "Will You place therein one who will spread evil therein and shed blood, while we sing Your praises, glorify You, and uphold Your absolute authority?" He said, "I know what you do not know." [2:30]

    “They say , "We live only this life; we will not be resurrected. If you could only see them when they stand before their Lord! He would say, "Is this not the truth?" They would say, "Yes, by our Lord." He would say, "You have incurred the retribution by your disbelief." [6:30]

    “We have honored the children of Adam, and provided them with rides on land and in the sea. We provided for them good provisions, and we gave them greater advantages than many of our creatures.” Quran [17:70]

    “O children of Adam, when messengers come to you from among you, and recite My revelations to you, those who take heed and lead a righteous life, will have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.” Quran [7:35]

    “O children of Adam, do not let the devil dupe you as he did when he caused the eviction of your parents from Paradise, and the removal of their garments to expose their bodies. He and his tribe see you, while you do not see them. We appoint the devils as companions of those who do not believe.” Quran [7:27]

    “Losers indeed are those who disbelieve in meeting God, until the Hour comes to them suddenly, then say, "We deeply regret wasting our lives in this world." They will carry loads of their sins on their backs; what a miserable load! [6:31]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to visit whyIslam org website.

    October 11, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Andres

      Live and let live. go preach based on the merits of islam, not bashing Christianity. Shame on you!

      October 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Which God?

      @ UniversUtter nonsense. Another cult that seeks to control its followers.

      October 11, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
      • Which God?

        Should read: @ Universe. Utter nonsence... sorry for typo.

        October 11, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  18. Lawrence of Arabia

    "In honor of the first year of Pope Francis' papacy"

    Well there's your problem right there... Who is man that we should draw attention to him? Do you think that the Apostle Peter would have had a commemorative coin made in his honor to mark the start of his ministry? God forbid that any man should do anything that takes the focus off of Christ.

    If any man in any ministry wishes to draw attention to himself rather than Christ and Him crucified, then let that man be anathema.

    October 11, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Paul & Silas

      The coin still focusses on the important message and that is as follows:
      "Vidit ergo Lesus publicanum ey quia miserando antque eligendo vidit, ait illi sequre me."

      The phrase means: Jesus, therefore, saw the tax collector, and because he saw, by having mercy and by choosing, He said to him, "Follow me."

      October 11, 2013 at 11:45 am |
      • Camden Curtis

        There are many Zacchaeus in the world that need a second chance. The pope is drawing the right attention here and inviting people to follow Jesus.

        October 11, 2013 at 11:49 am |
        • Camden Curtis

          Before a theology professor corrects the above post, although the tax collector mentioned above is Matthew, there are still people like Zacchaeus who need a second chance.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:51 am |
      • TranL

        CNN has made 3 errors when copying the Latin phrase from the coin . It should be (the errors are capitalized for visibility):

        "Vidit ergo Lesus publicanum ET quia miserando ATQUE eligendo vidit, ait illi SEQUERE me."

        October 11, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • Billy

      There is really almost nothing known about Peter.

      October 11, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Camden Curtis

      One more thing, if we compare Christian organizations, the catholic church is better off than most other decentralized churches , where the motive is not always "service". People are more driven by personal fame, fortune, book sales, leaving the 'church' legacy for their sons and daughters. The catholic church stands out in that sense as a good example of sacrificing oneself in the service of God.

      October 11, 2013 at 11:59 am |
      • CommonSensed

        You said it!

        They don't have their own country, army and money. Don't have enormous churches lined with gold. They don't hold sway over the petty politics of this world. They hold themselves accountable and ensure if any of their own commit wrongdoing they will punish them accordingly.

        The RNC is truly a godly organization.

        October 11, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
      • TR


        I am sorry, but you either have first hand knowledge of every church's motives and the fruits in the world or God gave you the gift of reading into someone's hearts and motives and you can rightfully judge them. If those two are not correct, then I would be careful how you judge others

        October 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • sam stone

      ministers should be ridiculed whenever they attempt to preach outside of their congregation

      October 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  19. doobzz

    I guess the proofreader didn't pray right before signing off on the final sample.

    October 11, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  20. Latin

    "The proper name Jesus /ˈdʒiːzəs/ used in the English language originates from the Latin form of the Greek name Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous)"

    October 11, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • The Name above all Names!


      October 11, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • Mike

      The English name Jesus derives from the Late Latin name Iesus, which transliterates the Koine Greek name Ἰησοῦς Iēsoûs.

      October 11, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I actually meant this post to go here:

      It's not a big leap to go from a misformed or poorly written "I" with a large lower serif in "Iēsus" to "Lesus".

      This is a pretty understandable mistake.

      October 11, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
      • PJ

        It would be an understandable mistake for a high school student on their first day of Latin, or someone who does not know anything about Latin. In which case, perhaps they should not be given the job of crafting coins with Latin text for the Vatican?

        October 11, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.