Jesus misspelled, and other famous typos

Jesus misspelled as 'Lesus' in a new commemorative coin for Pope Francis. The 6,000 misspelled Jesus coins were recalled by the Vatican.

(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis smiles (or is it a grimace?) at the end of the weekly general audience at the Vatican.

Copy editors the world over can empathize (and cringe) with this mistake.

The Vatican issued a recall this week because about 6,000 commemorative coins spelled the name "Jesus" as "Lesus."

The medallion celebrating Pope Francis includes a Latin phrase that reportedly once inspired the new pope to become a priest.

In English, the phrase reads: "Jesus therefore sees the tax collector, and since he sees by having mercy and by choosing, he says to him, follow me.”

The BBC reports that these 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.

The bronze, silver, and gold coins were priced at $108, $135, and $203 respectively.

But as a coin dealer told The New York Times, the flawed coins could be highly sought after by collectors.

“Regardless of what the Vatican decides to do now, it’s an interesting purchase for a collector,” Francesco Santarossa, owner of a numismatic and philatelic shop near St. Peter’s Square in Rome, said in a phone interview. “I don’t think they ever made such a mistake in the 600-year-long history of papal medals.”

Of course, the Vatican copy editors aren't the first to miss a typo. There are many other famous mistakes throughout the history of Christian printing.

For example, the 1631 printing of the King James Version Bible has been dubbed the "Wicked Bible." As one peruses the 10 Commandments, one will notice that Exodus 20:14 reads "Thou shalt commit adultery."

England's King Charles 1 and the Archbishop of Canterbury were not amused. Most copies of that bible were burned. The printers were fined 300 pounds (a large sum at the time) and lost their printing license. Only 11 copies of the "Wicked Bible" are known to exist today. The New York Public Library and The British Library in London each have copies.

And there's the 1612 King James edition of the "Printer's Bible," which famously rewrites Psalm 119: 161  "Printers have persecuted me without a cause" rather than "Princes have persecuted me..." Speculation is that a typesetter, disgruntled with his publisher, introduced this error.

There are many more examples of "bible errata,"often amusing in retrospect but scandalous in the day. For example, A KJV printing in 1611 became known as the "Judas Bible." It replaced "Jesus" with "Judas" in the passage from Matthew 26:36 "Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder."

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