The Saint Benedict medal is a Christian sacramental mostly used by Catholics, which contains symbols and text related to the life of St Benedict of Nursia. It’s also used by Anglicans, Lutheran and The western orthodox church.
The medal just like other sacramental is used as a means of fostering and expressing our religious devotion to God and the saints. It is a symbol of protection from evil spirits, curses and vice.
The reverse side of the medal has an exorcism prayer written on it that says “Vade retro Satana! Numquam suade mihi vana! Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas! ” which means “Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!“.
History of St Benedict medal
The medal of St Benedict was originally a cross known as Medal-Cross of St. Benedict. It was dedicated to the devotion in honor of St Benedict. Later a medal with the image of St Benedict was struck. In the picture, St Benedict was holding a cross aloft in his right hand and his rules of monastery in his left hand.
No one knows when the first medal of St Benedict was struck. The reverse side of the medal, contains a group of capital letters which was placed around the large cross.
The meaning of these letters was lost and unknown till the year 1647, an ancient manuscript was discovered in St Michael’s Abbey in Metten. The manuscript was writing in the year 1415 and contain picture of St. Benedict holding in one hand a staff which ends in a cross, and a scroll in the other. The meaning of the letters was also found in the manuscript, it is a Latin prayer of exorcism against the devil that says “Vade retro satana” meaning ‘Step back, Satan‘, and the letters were found to correspond to this phrase.
In the year 1880, a jubilee medal was struck, in remembrance of the 1400th anniversary of St Benedict’s birth. The jubilee medal became more popular among the Christians more than other medals struck in honor of St Benedict.
Symbols in St Benedict medal and meaning
On the face of the medal, picture of St Benedict can be seen holding a cross in his right hand. The cross is a symbol of salvation among the Christians. On his left hand, he holds a book which contains his rules of monastery. His rules of monastery can be summed up in the words of the Prolog exhorting us to “walk in God’s ways, with the Gospel as our guide.”
On his right below the cross, is the picture of a poisoned cup, which was given to him by his fellow monks who where jealous of his ability, but when St Benedict made sign of the cross on the cup, the cup shattered.
On the left side below the book he’s holding, is a Raven about to carry a poisoned bread which his enemies has given him in attempt to poison him to death.
Above the cup and the Raven is the word Crux sancti patris Benedicti which means “The Cross of our holy father Benedict”.
Circling St Benedict is the word Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur! which means “May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death”. This is a reference to the saint being a Patron of a Happy Death along with St Joseph.
Below St Benedict is the word ex SM Casino MDCCCLXXX which means Found out from the Casino mountain in 1880.
On the back of the medal is a cross which contains the letters C S S M L – N D S M D abbreviation of the word Crux sacra sit mihi lux! Numquam draco sit mihi dux which means “May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my guide“.
Beside the four angles of the cross are the big letters C S P B which are abbreviations of the word Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti which means The cross of our holy father Benedict.
Encircling the back of the medal is the letters V R S N S M V – S M Q L I V B which is the abbreviation of the word Vade retro satana: Vade retro Satana! Numquam suade mihi vana! Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas! which means ‘Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!’.
Lastly above the cross is the word Pax which means Peace.
Use and promises of St Benedict medal
The medal is not a talisman and doesn’t have power on its own. Just like other sacramental, the medal is means of reminding one of God and encouraging one to serve God.
The medal through the intercession St Benedict represents a prayer to the user, to call upon God’s blessings and protection upon our lives, loved once and properties.
The medal is a prayer of exorcism used to cast away devil.
It’s a prayer against temptation and trials of the devil.
A prayer for peace among ourselves and nations.
A prayer that the cross of Christ guide us and be our light
The medal through the intercession of St Benedict provides the user the following promises.
1.It provides inner peace and spiritual healing to the user.
2.Protection against bodily affliction and disease.
3.Destroys effects of witchcraft and diabolic influences.
4.Obtaining conversion of sinners especially at the point of death.
5.Healing of the injured and wounded.
6.Protection of children and adults from nightmare .
7.Protects pregnant woman and unborn child.
8.Protection from temptation and trials of the devil.
9.Protection from poisonous substance.
10.Protection from torments of the devil.
Although laymen aren’t allowed to practice exorcism in the Catholic Church, they are permitted to use the medal as a prayer of exorcism. You are allowed to use it as follows :
- You can wear it around your neck.
- You can put it inside your bag or purse.
- You can attach it to your rosary.
- You can fix it into your car or home
- You are permitted to place it at the foundation of your building.
- You can attach it to your crucifix.
How the medal is blessed
The medal can be blessed by a Catholic priest or deacon, not necessarily a Benedictine.
Below is the English version of how the medal is being blessed.
V: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R: Who made heaven and earth.
V: 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.
V: 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 the 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.
The medal is then sprinkled with holy water.
Life of St Benedict
St Benedict was born to a rich family in Norcia in 480AD. Due to immoral life the society encourages people to live, he dropped out of school and became a Hermit. He lived in a cage and survived under the care of a monk known as Romanus.
As time goes by, people learned about him and visited him, to be fed spiritually and to receive miracles from him. As a hermit he grew strengthened in the spirit and became resistant to temptation.
After an Abbot from a nearby monastery died, St Benedict was convinced to be their Abbot after so many persuasion.
As an Abbot in the monastery, St Benedict told the monks that they have fallen away from the true part of holiness and he would urge them to greater peity and asceticism.
The lazier monks who refused to reform, planned to kill him. They poisoned his wine so he will die after taking it. But St Benedict mystically warned about the treachery, made sign of the cross over the wine and the cup shattered.
After asking God for mercy upon them, he went back to the wilderness and continue to live solitary life. He continued growing in virtue and in the spirit. He became more popular for how many people he converted to Christian, drawing many to serve the Lord through his preaching and miracles that he performed, as a result of it he established 12 monasteries.
In one of the monastery, a priest became jealous of the abilities St Benedict posses and his success in leading people to God.
He conspired to kill St Benedict by sending poisoned loaf of bread to him. St Benedict realizing that the bread is poisoned, commanded a Raven in the name of Jesus Christ to carry the bread to a place where no man could find it. The raven later returned without the poison bread seeking for it’s usual share of bread crumbs.
He later settled in Monte Cassino (aka. Cassino mountain) where he founded the Benedictine monastery then wrote the Rules of monastery in the place and the Benedictine became the root of church monastic system.
St Benedict lived his whole life serving God and calling others to join him in serving the Lord.
Six days before his death, he requested that his grave (sepulchre) be opened. After it he became ill and started getting weaker daily. On the sixth day, he asked his fellow monks to carry him to his oratory, there he was given Holy Communion. He lifted his hands to heaven under the support of his fellow monks and then passed away. His death was honored and marked as a happy death.
Saint Benedict is the patron saint of happy death and his medal is often seen at the center of crucifix knows as the cross of happy death.