UPDATE: Challenge Coin – THEY’RE HERE!


Originally Published on: Apr 7, 2017

I had mentioned a while back that I resolved to have a challenge coin made.  I figured I’d start with one for my 25th anniversary.  This is what we have come up with so far.  The graphics are from Zuhlio’s official album cover designer.  The stemma is from D Burkart.


They will be polychrome on silver.  1.75″

So… that’s an update what what I’ve got so far. I’ve sent the images for estimates.

I’m not especially good at this sort of project, so it is a learning experience.

UPDATE 26 June 2017

After MANY delays, my challenge coins have finally arrived!  I had to nudge the company a few times, but they eventually came through.

The first, the obverse, is close to actual size.



These are numbered along the edge, so I can keep track of their destinations.

Now I will be able to fulfill my IOUs to NYPD cops and a longtime reader here… for starters.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Google hasn’t helped with the Latin on this coin I’m afraid:



    And doesn’t the year suggest that this May is your 26th – not 25th – anniversary?

  2. rodrigow says:

    Allan S., I believe that’s an abbreviation for Reverendus. Then we’d read “Reverendus Dominus”, which makes sense. And XXVI is the 26th of May, not the 25th anniversary, which is XXV Anniversario”. About SAC I’m not sure.

  3. PatriciusOenus says:

    SAC = SACERDOS (priest)

  4. Allan S. says:

    I like the Clement coin now in the new masthead – there was a coin issued celebrating the suppression of the Jesuits? I did not know that. How about reissuing those instead? I’d buy that for sure….

  5. acardnal says:

    The design looks very cool! I have a small collection of holy cards from priests’ ordination Mass and priestly anniversaries. You may be starting a new tradition among clerics with these challenge coins. . . perhaps starting with military chaplains.

  6. acardnal says:

    Mass should read Masses above.

  7. Joe in Canada says:

    It’s the MCMXCI which means 1991. So that would imply 26 years. Nice to see that Jesuit A.M.D.G. in there!

  8. I will say a prayer (in Latin, of course!) before I go to bed that this project is both affordable for you, and that it goes smoothly. As you commented before, when someone sends you a challenge coin you would like to have something similar to send back. And, while I have more to learn about this tradition, it sounds great! I can also understand that the 25th year of your ordination is a major milestone: Something truly to celebrate. May your bishop consider a special TLM in your honor: given that you have dedicated a major portion of your priesthood to teaching others about the usus antiquior (a role that needed to be filled ever since the great Motu proprio datae of the prior parenthesis). God love you!

    [The anniversary year was last year and, no, nothing was done.]

  9. catholic patrolman says:

    Looks pretty good Father! As one of the NYPD cops that gave you the Holy Name Society membership coin and informed you of your perpetual honorary membership a few weeks back, [An honor!] I look forward to meeting up with you again and possibly getting my hands on one of these beauties! [I can assure you that you will get one.] On behalf of all of us, thank you for keeping us in the know, for your unwavering support of law enforcement and for your prayers. A blessed Holy Week and Easter to you. In Nomine Christi, Fidelis Usque Ad Mortem!

    [It’s great to hear from you! AND A NOTE TO COPS/LEOs/MILITARY: I’ll happily bless whachya got, body armor, service or back up weapons, vehicle, whatever. You name it, I’ll bless it!]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  10. Andrew says:

    Ministerii sacerdotalis
    tui anno anniversario
    vigesimo et quinto, gratiam
    tibi sincero cordis affectu
    agimus reverendissime et
    dilectissime Pater Joannes

  11. Elizabeth D says:

    I do not understand this. I went and looked up what a “challenge coin” is and do not like this idea for a priest. I would be more blunt but I will refrain. With all due respect.

    [I’ll make a notation in the “No” vote column.]

  12. Philmont237 says:

    I gave one of my former squadron challenge coins (7th Weather Squadron) to the monks of Norcia when I stayed a long weekend with them for retreat. I hope that it survived the earthquake and they continue to pray for the airmen that we call “Thunder Warriors.”

  13. Mariana2 says:

    Another thing those of us not of the American persuasion haven’t heard of. Do you present your coin when challenged, or is it something you give to others as tokens of friendhship? Either way, very nice!

    [I think this has caught on all over. And it is certainly a token of good will.]

  14. Semper Gumby says:

    Ok, so Philmont237 gave a 7th Weather Squadron challenge coin to the monks of Norcia? That’s brilliant. You sir, are a steely-eyed missile man.

    Mariana2 and Elizabeth D raise some interesting points. While the buying of a round of drinks is obligatory if one does not possess a challenge coin- or if one challenges and everyone responds by slapping their own coin down- getting drunk is not obligatory. In fact it’s bad form. It also seems that most military chaplains have challenge coins.

    Sometimes when challenged I’ll slap down on the table or bar not a unit coin but my Trusty Shellback coin (crossed the Equator at sea) just to see what happens. A Golden Shellback may be present (crossed the Equator at sea at the 180th Meridian/International Date Line). I have yet to encounter that rare and elusive creature the Emerald Shellback (crossed the Equator at sea at the Prime Meridian, coordinates 0° 0°- this spot is also known as the “Null Island weather bouy”.)

    One time overseas a civilian with no military experience was part of our little team. One day he accomplished something remarkable. Later, a two-star general shook his hand and gave him a challenge coin. So the rest of us lost our free drink ticket, but that was ok, (we only pulled the challenge on him once, to see what kind of a sense of humor he had).

    In addition to public challenge coins there are private Catholic medals of course. A few years ago just prior to deploying, a nice young lady gave me a St. Sebastian medal. Another time, an hour before departure, a buddy’s wife pulled me aside, gave me a Miraculous Medal, and informed me I was to keep an eye on her husband. Yes, ma’am.

    All this brings to mind something nautical that Fr. Z, a fan of Patrick O’Brien novels, may be interested in. There is a Navy tradition that a ship’s first logbook entry of New Years Day is to be written as poetry. Among the classics are the USS Houston Jan. 1, 1942, and the USS Cole on Jan. 1, 2004, when that ship returned to duty. Perhaps a Dante-esque poem from Fr. Z on Jan. 1, 2018. Vis per Mare. Vis per Blog.

    p.s. Almost forgot Fr. Z. Excellent design on your challenge coin. But I’m still partial to a coin with Fr. Z in Braveheart blueface, biretta, night vision goggles, and aspergillum. Ah well.

  15. Mariana2 says:

    Semper Gumby, Thanks for the explanations! I thought challenge meant “Halt, who goes there?” : ) .

  16. Suburbanbanshee says:

    There is nothing wrong with a Catholic priest offering to pay for drinks or having his drink paid for, unless he is an alcoholic. In fact, challenge coins are a nice way to get around the dilemma of layfolk, as to whether they should pay for Father’s drink.

    But in real life away from military bases, most challenge coins are just memorabilia. The idea that such collectibles can have a hierarchy of rank or rarity is a nice little game. The love and respect (or luck and joking) behind such gifts is what makes them really prized.

  17. Sword40 says:

    I’m afraid that I must ask this question…… “What is the purpose of a challenge coin”?

    Lately, I’ve been deluged with them from almost every sector, Marines, Army, Navy etc.
    whats going on?

    [A good problem to have. I hope you are returning the favor… if possible.]

  18. Charles E Flynn says:

    I cannot tell you how relieved I am to learn that “Ad maiorem Dei gloriam” is not a registered trademark of a well-known religious order that, with a few well-known exceptions, has had a regrettable track record in recent decades.

  19. Charles E Flynn: “Ad maiorem Dei gloriam” is not a registered trademark

    Right! Indeed this phrase was made famous by Jesuits. However unlikely, St. Ignatius could have appropriated it from St. Gregory I’s Dialogues 1.2: Sed ad maiorem Dei gloriam vicit pietas illud pectus virtutis, quod ideo fuit validum quia devictum. Of course early on, St. Ignatius didn’t have Latin until, at 30, he began studies for the priesthood. He had to learn with boys much younger, which must have been humbling. That doesn’t mean that he couldn’t have known about this phrase from the Dialogues. After all, it contains also Gregory’s story about Benedict and the founding of his order, which surely would have interested the founder of the Society.

  20. Charles E Flynn says:

    Thank you, Father, for the backstory of “Ad maiorem Dei gloriam”.

    I have been thinking quite a bit about this motto, since I read in your posting ASK FATHER: When do traditional Catholics throw in the towel? :

    It is the sole desire of the Enemy to steal souls from heaven so that God will have just that much less glory, that there will be just that much less joy.

  21. padredana says:

    As someone interested in having something like this made, what company did you use?

    [I’ll write by email with info and comments.]

  22. While I don’t have one to trade…would love to have one to treasure. Have quite a few holy cards from priest acquaintances/friends for their anniversaries in the inside cover of my missal…as well as the memorial cards for my memere and pepere, the founder of the order of brothers who founded my High School (Br. Andre Coindre of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart) and on my desk a few coins from various commands that I collected whilst working as a contractor for some unnamed government agencies. The cards I look through before Mass begins to remind me who I should remember…and are a talisman of the faith that led those men to the Lord’s service.

    Good show, Father.

  23. Semper Gumby says:

    That’s a mighty fine challenge coin Fr. Z.

  24. @PatriciusOenus: A conclusive explanation.

    I was distracted by the fact that SAC as a suffix to the name in the Una Sancta is common for
    Societas Apostolatus Catholici (=Pallotines) and this fought with my memory that Fr. Zuhlsdorf wrote, that he was ordained and incardinated in a suburbican diocese.

    [Abbreviations can mean more than one thing. This doesn’t mean that I am a Pallotine (nothing against them, of course – I know a couple good ones).]

  25. Gus Barbarigo says:

    It looks great, but the cross seems to be missing from the Host, on the reverse of the sample in the photograph. The Host has a cross in the sketch. [OK… you don’t get one.] Still, the sample makes a snazzy presentation.

  26. rcg says:

    Wow! Beautiful and cool.

    You should get a load of them and hide them around the world during your travels. Write a book about…just stuff. Art, history, and of course faith and the Church. And Latin. End each chapter with a puzzle in (let me think) Latin with hints to the whereabouts of a numbered coin. Publish it posthumouly. The Zuhlsdorf Quest.

    [Hmmmm… interesting!]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  27. UncleBlobb says:

    It reminds me of Hospitalium. I think that is the term.

  28. Philmont237 says:

    I left a 7th Weather Squadron coin with the Benedictine Monks of Norcia when I stayed with them last June. This was obviously before the earthquakes. I hope it survived the destruction, that the monks still have it, and that they continue to pray for my former squadron in their mission of providing weather support to the US Army in Europe as they deter Russian aggression.

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