What in ‘L’?
On a medal to commemorate the first year of Francis’ pontificate is an error of biblical proportion. Instead of “Jesus,” engraved on the coin is “Lesus.”
One wag quipped on Twitter: “I blame the Lesuits.”
The problem stems from the fact that Latin does not have the letter ‘J’ — Jesus name is spelled with an I in Latin. For example, the letters INRI on many crosses stand for “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum” — Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.
Whoever engraved the medal mistook the capital I for a lower case L.
But the Vatican press office also goofed when it announced this week that the coins were going on sale. It misspelled a simple word in the Latin quotation dear to the heart of the man who would one day become pope.
The phrase on the medal should read: “Vidit ergo Iesus publicanum, et quia miserando atque eligendo vidit, ait illi, ‘Sequere me.’ ”
But the Vatican Information Service announced that it was: “VIDIT ERGO JESUS PUBLICANUM ET QUIA MISERANDO ANTQUE ELIGENDO VIDIT, AIT ILLI SEQUERE ME”.
Some media outlets, such as CBS News, copied the Vatican’s error.
Luckily for an Italian mint and the Vatican press office, the Lord came to show mercy. The quotation means: Jesus, therefore, saw the publican, and because he saw by having mercy and by choosing, He said to him, “Follow me.”
Moral of the story? Have mercy and follow the Lord not the Jord.
Meanwhile, numismatists must be salivating. More than 6,000 medals — 200 in gold and 3,000 in silver and in bronze — were minted. Only four were sold before someone noticed the Lesus problem and pulled them off the shelves.