About the Four Way Medal
What is a Four Way Medal?
What is the Catholic four way medal and what is the significance of this devotional medal? Religious medals have been worn by pious Christians since the earliest centuries. A medal bearing the image of Sts. Peter and Paul that was made in the 2nd century has been found, and by the 4th century the newly-baptized were given a medal as a remembrance of the event. In the 16th century, the popularity of wearing the various religious medals we think of today grew and this is the time when indulgences were attached to particular medals. The practice remains popular and widespread today; the four way medal has become one of these favorite devotional medals.
The Four Way Medal
Most simply put, the 4 way medal is a medal created out of a combination of four popular Catholic medals. Traditionally, the four way medal is cross-shaped (cruciform) and includes the Sacred Heart medal, St. Joseph medal, St. Christopher medal, and the Miraculous medal or another Marian medal image. The backside of the medal is often engraved with “I am a Catholic – Please call a priest,” in case the wearer of the medal is found unconscious and in critical condition, for example if he or she were in a car accident. Some four way medals may also have “Pray for us” inscribed on the back or may simply be blank.
It is not known when exactly a four way medal was first made, nor has it been expressly defined why the medal was created but it has been speculated that the wearing of a four-in-one medal was more convenient than wearing four of the most popular medals tangled on one chain. This can especially be useful for someone who also wishes to wear, aside from the four way medal, an additional patron saint medal of a saint he or she has a particular devotion to. Additionally, the four way medals are traditionally forged in the shape of a cross, which can be seen as an outward sign of understanding that the devotion to Mary and the saints does not exist alone and apart from Jesus Christ, but within the Catholic Faith.
Variations of the Four Way Medal
As mentioned, the four way medal traditionally was forged in the shape of a cross; however, individual four way medals vary greatly in style and may not always be created in the shape of a cross.
Some four way medals simply look like 4 oval medals forged together. It is not known, but it is possible that the first four way medals were literally four individual medals forged together and may have resembled this style. Many other medals are more ornate, created from detailed crosses with the image of each medal engraved onto each arm of the cross – the oval shape of each medal may or may not be included. As with other cross necklaces, the cruciform style of a four way medal can vary from a simple Latin cross to an eye-catching Maltese cross. Many four way medals also have an image of the Holy Spirit engraved in the center of the cross or near the top.
Some four way medals are not cross shaped, but are contained within a circle or oval, such as the small oxidized four way medals (great for giving out at youth groups, Bible studies, retreats and other group events), this sterling round four way medal, and the unique patriotic four way medal. Commonly, if a four way medal is engraved within a circle or oval medal, since the medal is not cross-shaped, a cross or crucifix is engraved in the center of the medal.
View all of our Catholic four way medals.