Error in Latin on a medal struck by the Vatican

You have got to be kidding me.

Read and weep.

This speaks of the degradation of our time.

From the Beeb:

The Vatican has withdrawn from sale 6,000 copies of a new papal medal on which the name of Jesus was misspelt.

In an inscription around the edge of the coin, Jesus was mistakenly spelt with an L.

Keen-eyed experts snapped up a handful of the coins, which were struck in gold, silver and bronze by the Italian mint, before the mistake was noticed.

Vatican coins and medals bearing the face of Pope Francis are bought by collectors all over the world.

A few collectors may make a fortune because of the scarcity value of the flawed medals, the BBC’s David Willey reports from Rome.

New medals are struck when every new pope is elected and they provide a useful source of income for the Vatican, which is undergoing a major spending review under the leadership of Pope Francis, our correspondent says.

As news of the mistake travelled, social media users cracked jokes about this new religious figure, “Lesus” Christ. “I blame the Lesuits,” went onetweet while another had “Let us prey Lesus”.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. MarkJ says:

    Is this a form of Numismatical abuse?

  2. Evovae says:

    Eh, the large serifs are certainly a mitigating factor, for making the “L” look like an “I”. I mean, it’s not like they spelled it, GESUS. Still…

  3. pseudomodo says:

    Runn Spel Cheque

  4. Doesn’t surprize me for the first Pope who wasn’t trained before Vatican II. Latin clearly isn’t a high priority of this pontificate.

  5. inexcels says:

    Surely you Lest!

  6. Cantor says:

    Thank heavens they weren’t issued ex cathedra or there’d be a load of explainin’ to do!

  7. Random Friar says:

    Not quite as bad as the “Adulterers’ Bible” back in Merry Olde England, where they forgot the “not” and had God command “Thou shalt commit adultery.”

  8. SegoLily says:

    There are no coincidences! (eerie music in background).

  9. Legisperitus says:

    Mistakes like this wouldn’t happen if they’d simply use the J God gave us in His infinite wisdom. ;)

  10. Palladio says:

    “Doesn’t surprize me for the first Pope who wasn’t trained before Vatican II. Latin clearly isn’t a high priority of this pontificate.”
    Sorry, but the folks who have, intentionally or no, brought so much woe to the Church were, nearly to a man, “trained before Vatican Two.” They celebrated the TLM and knew a bit of Latin and Greek, even Hebrew.

    His pontificate had zero to do with the striking of the medal, obviously. It’s what people who actually know anything about the history of Latin could easily recognize as a ‘scribal’ error, a bad one, but nothing more. Blaming the Pope for this is like blaming a President for a mistake at the U. S. Mint: just plain wrong.

  11. At least the artwork isn’t modernist.

  12. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Does the reverse attribute the quotation to the Venomous Bead?

  13. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Presumably the lay-out of such exonumistic inscriptions is computer-assisted these days, facilitating faster and easier errata – still, some care must have been taken in working out the spacing, the design must have passed the review of several sets of eyes: the mind boggles – surely the treacherously helpful ability of the brain to read what ought to be there rather than what is has limits!

  14. AnAmericanMother says:

    Printers’ errors happen.
    We just sent out invitations to the wedding of our daughter, and thank goodness I have a job that requires careful proofreading — the printer spelled the groom’s middle name incorrectly. Caught it in proof.

  15. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    In Fr. Z’s absence, may I award an honorary Gold Star to “inexcels”?

  16. PostCatholic says:

    The funniest tweet I saw so far was “If you can’t be a Christian, at least they’ll let you be a Lesbian.”

    Perhaps you won’t think that’s as amusing as I do.

  17. Father Bartoloma says:

    If they had added a second “S” and left the “L” they would have had the word “LESSUS” which is Latin for a mournful cry or lament.

  18. inexcels says:

    An honor to accept an honorary gold star from Dr. Peters. (^_^)

  19. Therese says:

    Alas, this is a genuine typo, not a misspelling. Pity the poor editor who mistook a lowercase ‘l’ for an uppercase ‘I’. ;-)

  20. Therese says:

    I ought to add that when the text was put into the proper font, the error should have been discovered. But nobody thought to proof the final copy. ;-(

  21. Geoffrey says:

    “Doesn’t surprize me for the first Pope who wasn’t trained before Vatican II. Latin clearly isn’t a high priority of this pontificate.”

    With all due respect, this is clearly an uninformed statement. One of the recent interviews with His Holiness revealed that he prays the Divine Office in Latin. And as others said above, it isn’t like the Holy Father personally reviewed the final draft of the coin before minting. Nothing to see here, folks… except a collector’s item!

  22. asperges says:

    Even the most cynical realise these things happen, but it reflects badly on the Church and shows it up as incompetent. It’s all grist to our enemies’ mill. Several people must have examined this before it was approved. Why it should be struck at all beats me. It’s not as though one year of anything means much.

  23. Andrew says:

    In the meantime the NY Times reports the error and they add that: “miserando atque eligendo” loosely translates as “lowly but chosen.” Now, to mistake an ‘I’ for an ‘L’ is understandable, but for a widely read newspaper to provide a fictitious translation? That is truly outrageous. “Miserando” is derived from “miserari” meaning “to have pity on someone”. Not “lowly”.

  24. Denis Crnkovic says:

    Given the Holy Father’s preoccupation with automobiles, my first reaction was that the typo was with the first “S” – that it should have been an “X”.

  25. @Andrew – that translation is given on the Vatican Radio website, so one can expect it to be circulated as infallible. Fr Z has another post on it too, explaining the Latin.

  26. Andrew says:


    Actually the Vatican Radio website has the following, which is correct:

    … la frase latina del Evangelio de Mateo “Miserando atque eligendo”, que describe la postura de Jesús que “lo miró con misericordia y lo eligió”.

  27. Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    This is not an error in Latin.

    This is a typo.

    (A very funny one.)

    So just laugh, and move on.

  28. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Father Bartoloma,
    Hmm… A variant spelling of an appellation for Vir Dolorum (Isaiah 53:3)? Perhaps a way to prevent the sad destruction of so many medals! Or could they somehow be correctively ‘restuck’ or something to replace the “L”?

  29. Titus says:

    For starters, the minting was carried out by the Italians, not the Holy See.

    Second, it’s a relatively run-of-the-mill typesetting mistake. It should have been caught before the whole run was struck, certainly. But at its heart this is an editorial mistake.

  30. Pnkn says:

    jots a tittle mistake

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