The St. Benedict Medal
About the St. Benedict Medal
Devotional medals are an ancient and venerable tradition in the Church. Many medals, struck with the Chi Rho symbol, have been found in the Roman catacombs and date from the very earliest Christian era. The medal of St. Benedict, one of the most popular devotional medals in the Church, is a two-sided medal, the current and most well known form of which was struck in 1880. The medal was based on earlier images and medals of St. Benedict, dating back at least to 1415, taken from a manuscript that depicted St. Benedict similarly to how he is represented on the medal. The medal can be worn, carried, attached to a rosary, hung, and may even be put into the foundations of homes and other buildings. The purpose of the medal is to be a constant, silent prayer, asking for God's blessing, for Jesus to be our guide, and for strength against evil in times of temptation.
The face of the medal depicts St. Benedict in the center, holding a cross on his right hand, and in his left, a copy of his Holy Rule for Monasteries. To Benedict's right is a cup and a raven is to his left. Above these items are the words Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti – Cross of the Holy Father Benedict. The cup represents a cup of poison that was served to Benedict, which shattered when he made the sign of the cross over it. The raven is present to carry away a loaf of poisoned bread that had been sent to Benedict. Around the edge of the medal are the words Ejus in obitu nro praesentia muniamus – May we at our death be fortified by his presence. St. Benedict is regarded, especially by Benedictines, as a patron of a happy death; he died with his arms stretched up towards heaven shortly after receiving the Eucharist. Below St. Benedict on the jubilee medal of 1880 is written SM Casino MDCCCLXXX – from holy Monte Cassino 1880, as it was struck to commemorate the 1,400th anniversary of his birth. Monte Cassino is where the mother house of all Benedictines is located.
On the reverse side of the medal, the cross is the dominant image. On the arms of the cross are the initials of a Latin prayer: Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux, Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux – The Holy Cross be my light! Let not the dragon be my guide! In the angles of the cross, the letters C S P B stand for what is written on the front of the medal, Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti. Above the cross is the word Pax – Peace, though the medal may also be struck with the IHS monogram instead. The initials along the border of the medal, V R S N S M V - S M Q L I V B are once again initials of a Latin Prayer: Vade Retro Satana, Nunquam Suade Mihi Vana — Sunt Mala Quae Libas, Ipse Venena Bibas – Begone, Satan, do not suggest to me thy vanities — evil are the things thou profferest, drink thou thy own poison.
The St. Benedict Medal Prayer:
May the intercession of the Blessed Patriarch and Abbot Benedict render Thee merciful unto us, O Lord, that what our own unworthiness cannot obtain, we may receive through his powerful patronage. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
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