St. Benedict of Nursia, Italy (A.D. 480-543), the twin brother of St. Scholastica, is considered to be the Father of Western monasticism, and his “Rule of St. Benedict” came to be the basis of organization for many religious orders (his own Order has its cradle at Monte Cassino, Italy, about 80 miles South of Rome).
At any rate, in order to understand the symbolism of the Medal, you must know of this event in St. Benedict’s life: he’d been living as a hermit in a cave for three years, famous for his holiness, when a religious community came to him after the death of their abbot and asked Benedict to take over. Some of the “monks” didn’t like this plan and attempted to kill him with poisoned bread and wine. Just as St. John the Divine was miraculously saved from being poisoned, when St. Benedict made the sign of the Cross over these things, he came to know they were poisoned, so he toppled the cup and commanded a raven to carry off the bread.
It is unknown when the Medal of St. Benedict originated. During a trial for witchcraft at Natternberg near the Abbey of Metten in Bavaria in the year 1647, the accused women testified that they had no power over Metten, which was under the protection of the cross. Upon investigation, a number of painted crosses, surrounded by the letters which are now found on Benedictine medals, were found on the walls of the abbey, but their meaning had been forgotten.
Finally, in an old manuscript, written in 1415, was found a picture representing St. Benedict holding in one hand a staff which ends in a cross, and a scroll in the other. On the staff and scroll were written in full the words of which the mysterious letters were the initials. Medals bearing the image of St. Benedict, a cross, and these letters began now to be struck in Germany, and soon spread over Europe. They were first approved by Benedict XIV in his briefs of 23 December, 1741, and 12 March, 1742.
FRONT One side of the medal bears an image of St. Benedict, holding a cross in the right hand and the Holy Rule in the left. On the one side of the image is a cup, on the other a raven, and above the cup and the raven are inscribed the words: “Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti” (Cross of the Holy Father Benedict). Round the margin of the medal stands the legend “Ejus in obitu nostro praesentia muniamus” (May we at our death be fortified by his presence).
BACK The reverse of the medal bears a cross with the initial letters of the words: “Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux” (The Holy Cross be my light), written downward on the perpendicular bar; the initial letters of the words, “Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux” (Let not the dragon be my guide), on the horizontal bar; and the initial letters of “Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti” in the angles of the cross. Round the margin stand the initial letters of the distich: “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). At the top of the cross usually stands the word Pax (peace) or the monogram I H S (Jesus).
Special Graces and Indulgences Attached to the Medal
(1) All the indulgences that could be gained by visiting the basilica, crypt, and tower of St. Benedict at Monte Cassino (Pius IX, 31 December, 1877)
(2) A plenary indulgence on the feast of All Souls (from about two o’clock in the afternoon of 1 November to sunset of 2 November), as often as after confession and Holy Communion, he visits any church or public oratory, praying there according to the intention of the pope, provided that he is hindered from visiting a church or public oratory of the Benedictines by sickness, monastic enclosure or a distance of at least 1000 steps. (Decr. 27 February, 1907, in Acta S. Sedis, LX, 246.) Any priest may receive the faculties to bless these medals.
Medals Protections and Benefits
- To destroy witchcraft and all other diabolical and haunting influences
- To impart protection to persons tempted, deluded, or tormented by evil spirits
- To obtain the conversion of sinners into the Catholic Church, especially when they are in danger of death
- To serve as an armor against temptation
- To destroy the effects of poison
- To secure a timely and healthy birth for children
- To afford protection against storms and lightning
- To serve as an efficacious remedy for bodily afflictions and a means of protection against contagious diseases.
How To Use The St.Benedict Medal
- On a chain around the neck
- Attached to one’s rosary
- Kept in one’s pocket or purse
- Placed in one’s car or home
- Placed in the foundation of a building
- Placed in the center of a cross.
- Place or bury a St.Benedict Medal in the four corners of your home for protection against home invasion.
My personal Experience with the St Benedict Medal
My mom always placed a St. Benedict Medal above each of the entrances of our homes and in each of the four corners of our property.There was alot of crime where we lived for a few years and every single house around us and for 2 blocks on our street was broken into and robbed except for our house.The people in the neighborhood couldnt figure out why we were never robbed even when we went on vacation and my mom wasnt shy about telling anyone who would ask that she had the St.Benedict medal to thank for this.Some rolled their eyes….(my mom was known as a religious fanatic in the neighborhood because of our statue of Mary out front and the 20 religious bumper stickers on our van)but some asked for St.Benedict medals to protect their home too.