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What does a St. Benedict Medal Mean?
What does a St. Benedict Medal Mean?

What is the Saint Benedict Medal?

About the St. Benedict Medal

The St. Benedict MedalDevotional 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 inobitu 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 CasinoMDCCCLXXX – 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.

St. Benedict Medals and Gifts

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, CruxSancti Patris Benedicti. Above the cross is the word Pax – Peace, though the medal may also be struck with theIHS 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 VanaSunt Mala Quae Libas, Ipse VenenaBibasBegone, 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.

Adapted from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, the  book, The Medal or Cross of Saint Benedict and the book Life of St. Benedict.

You can click on the image below to magnify sections and get a detailed description of each part.

Ian

Ian

Ian Rutherford is the President and founder of AquinasAndMore.com, one of the largest and oldest on-line Catholic stores.

He lives with his lovely wife and eleven kids in northern Colorado.
Ian

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2 comments

  1. Dom Cingoranelli

    Thanks, Ian! Also of note is the special blessing that priests and deacons are allowed to use in blessing the medals. Used to be that this was something restricted to the Benedictines, but in recent decades, any priest or deacon can perform the blessing. The blessing needs to be repeated if a medal, once blessed, is sold, as I understand it:

    Medals of Saint Benedict are sacramentals that may be blessed legitimately by any priest or deacon — not necessarily a Benedictine (Instr., 26 Sept. 1964; Can. 1168). The following English form may be used.

    V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
    R. Who made heaven and earth.

    In the name of God the Father † almighty, who made heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in them, I exorcise these medals against the power and attacks of the evil one. May all who use these medals devoutly be blessed with health of soul and body. In the name of the Father † almighty, of the Son † Jesus Christ our Lord, and of the Holy † Spirit the Paraclete, and in the love of the same Lord Jesus Christ who will come on the last day to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire.

    Amen.

    Let us pray. Almighty God, the boundless source of all good things, we humbly ask that, through the intercession of Saint Benedict, you pour out your blessings † upon these medals. May those who use them devoutly and earnestly strive to perform good works be blessed by you with health of soul and body, the grace of a holy life, and remission of the temporal punishment due to sin.

    May they also with the help of your merciful love, resist the temptation of the evil one and strive to exercise true charity and justice toward all, so that one day they may appear sinless and holy in your sight. This we ask through Christ our Lord.

    Amen.

    The medals are then sprinkled with holy water.

    Permissu superiorum
    Nihil obstat and Imprimatur, Saint Cloud, 24 April 1980

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