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. deda

    Lesus don't exist, jesus don't exist... it's imaginary character anyways...

    October 11, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Character flaws..? On whose shoulders..?

      October 11, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • Stephen

      "Lesus don't..." and "Jesus don't..."? It appears that grammar skills do not exist in your writing either lol

      October 11, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  2. studyabroadguy

    In the article it says "ey," which is not Latin. It needs to be edited to "et," which means "and." Please, whoever wrote this article, edit this. The coin even verifies that it is not "ey."

    October 11, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  3. Nightcrawler

    Pot, meet kettle. Your own infallible copy editor missed you writing "ey" instead of "et" and "antque" instead of "atque".

    October 11, 2013 at 1:25 pm |

    Never forget the church is a business.

    October 11, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  5. devin

    ...and like that! a new god is born!!!

    Praise be to the lights above!

    repent! or burn for eternity...

    (love that Lesus smile 🙂

    October 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  6. qazoo

    Reminds one of Pope Leo selling absolution.

    October 11, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Dunlar

      The Pearly Gates are coin operated....

      October 11, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
      • Lionly Lamb

        How many gates can I open for a piggy ban full of coins or is it all just hogwash..?

        October 11, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
        • Lionly Lamb


          October 11, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
      • Og

        But only accept Dutch guilders

        October 11, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  7. Apple Bush

    sweet smelling flowers roam the sidewalks
    while big bellied dandelions platoon;

    the spring rains are falling a funny tune at the expense
    of a funny man;

    stepping on and off the curb, looking a bit bored;
    eyes up and shoes flexed for the sprint

    suddenly bright sun elbows its way between two clouds;
    a funny man flaps his ready feat into a small puddle and smiles

    the sun was sweet;
    it tasted warm on his tongue and eye lids

    a funny man went for swim;
    flippers flipping and arms waving his funny man water ballet

    October 11, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • RC

      I appreciate the poetry, but I'm not really sure of the relevance?

      October 11, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  8. Suresh Chari

    Latin is dead.. So is Lesus/Jesus. Move on.

    October 11, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • Nightcrawler

      Latin is Dead, as Dead as Dead can be.
      First it killed the Romans – and now it's killing me.

      October 11, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  9. Gordon

    I'll offer $1 for a misspelled one.

    October 11, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  10. Suralin

    Lesus? Well, at least it wasn't Reekris.

    October 11, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  11. CP in FL

    So the Vatican is selling a fake gold coin with a picture showing a fake god and his fake son, which was misspelled. Ok I have got it now.

    October 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Suresh Chari

      LOL. Fake, and anachronistic too..

      October 11, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  12. Bootyfunk

    Margarita! Noriega wrote
    "Maybe as the voice of God, his name is actually Lesus, and we've been wrong all this time? Praise Lesus. Jord and Lavior."


    October 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  13. Barry

    So if there is no "J" in Latin, how should the name have been represented in Latin?

    October 11, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      October 11, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Jez

      Perhaps there is no God – perhaps Jesus or Lesus is just a hoax. Or maybe this is just the work of Jucifer.

      October 11, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Yes, surely it is the work of Jucifer.

        October 11, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      As in the "INRI" that you see on the top of Catholic crucifixes.

      INRI: (Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum): "Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews"

      October 11, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Jim


      October 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  14. Mariah

    So much for the infallibility of scripture. They can't even get a coin right. How can we expect the entire Bible to be without error?! What a joke!

    October 11, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Suresh Chari

      Well-said 🙂

      October 11, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • jllouis

      You people are so stupid. Your comment would suggest some education, but that isn't the case.

      Anyway, In Latin (an ancient language), Jesus could also be spelled as 'Lesus'. This is known as morphology.

      Hope you learned something today.


      October 11, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  15. Bubba

    It should be in Jesus' language instead on Latin.

    October 11, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Suresh Chari

      That would be Aramaic-Chaldee.

      October 11, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  16. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    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 12:48 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Yeah, I have had to copy/paste some things into a Word doc. and fiddle with fonts to decipher them!

      These folks in the Vatican are supposed to be up-to-snuff on Latin words though...

      October 11, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Somebody missed it during the approval stage either of the image to be engraved, or the engraving itself.

      October 11, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  17. Michael

    Freemasons, at it again.

    October 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
  18. azimlooker

    We have all heard the phrase "that Jesus was a little bit gay" but Lesus?

    October 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
  19. scientificpoetry


    October 11, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • MAX


      October 11, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  20. Apple Bush

    You, child
    Crossing the line without knowing
    Just for being who you are
    What confusion was hard wired?
    A developing brain, healthy and ready
    Sabotaged as a child
    Savage religion.

    October 11, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
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About this blog

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.