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 ey quia miserando antque eligendo vidit, ait illi sequre me.
The phrase, from the Gospel of Matthew, means: Therefore, Jesus sees the tax collector, and since he sees by having mercy and by choosing, he says 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.
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?”