Religious medals play an important supplemental role in Catholicism. Like rosaries, they act as a support of and reminder of your faith. Each medal is marked with the image of Jesus or a saint on the front with a prayer or statement on the back associated with the front’s holy image. When worn attached to a rosary or a necklace or carried around in your pocket, a religious medal compliments your prayers if the prayer is associated with the holy image on the front.
The St. Benedict Medal is one of the most popular religious medals. On the front is an image of St. Benedict of Nursia holding a cross and the list of rules he wrote for the monastery he founded (also known as the Rules of Saint Benedict). On the back are abbreviated Latin phrases paired with another cross.
Why is the medal honoring St. Benedict popular?
The answer to that question lies within the life and legacy of St. Benedict.
Life of St. Benedict
St. Benedict fled from schooling in Rome during his twenties to lead a more pious, secluded life. Eventually, he drove himself so deep in seclusion that be became a hermit. During his time in hermitude, the Devil lit up Benedict’s imagination with images of a alluring woman. To resist the temptation, Benedict rolled around in a thorn bush, showing his temperament against the Devil’s influence. Years after this incident, word of his piousness got out. Monks traveled to his dwelling and asked for him to become their leader. A falling out between the monks and him occurred, giving them reason to attempt to poison him with a drink. It’s said that Benedict prayed over the drink before sipping it and the container shattered. Once again, he showed his faith’s power over evil. At another point, an envious priest sent a piece of poisoned bread to St. Benedict. A raven carried the bread away before St. Benedict could eat it. St. Benedict, with his piety, warded off the Devil’s advances on his life. After his death, when intercessory prayers were made to him, St. Benedict helped others ward off the Devil’s advances and death by poison. His life and legacy is why the medal honoring him is so popular. Many want to be associated with the same level of spiritual and physical protection St. Benedict received.
Uses of the St. Benedict Medal
If you wear his medal and actively pray for your own protection, you are providing yourself with a layer of spiritual protection from evil, temptation, and poisoning. Here’s an incomplete list of other uses for the medal:
- Converting sinners
- Protection against contagious diseases
- Assistance in the hour of death
- The safe delivery of a baby
Ordained priests also can use the medal in exorcisms to expel the Devil’s presence from an individual. The abbreviated Latin on the back of the metal supports this purpose, which will be discussed in detail later.
You can find a vaste collection of St. Benedict medals & crosses for your protection in our shop.
History of The Medal’s Design
Despite being well known now, the meaning of the abbreviated Latin was not always known. For a long time, it was unclear what the letters even stood for. In 1647, an old manuscript was found. This manuscript revealed the source of the lettering, showing that each letter was the initials of a Latin prayer used in exorcisms. Below is list of the abbreviations, what the abbreviations stand for in Latin, and the English meaning:
- PAX (Pax) -- Peace
- CSPB (Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti) -- The Cross of Holy Father Benedict
- CSSML (Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux!) -- May the holy cross be my light!
- NDSMD (Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux!) -- May the dragon (devil) never be my overlord!
- VRS (Vade Retro Satana!) -- Begone satan!
- NSMV (Nunquam Suade Mihi Vana!) -- Never tempt me with your vanities!
- SMQL (Sunt Mala Quae Libas.) -- What you offer me is evil.
- IVB (Ipse venena bibas!) -- Drink the poison yourself!
As for the front of the medal, it is believed that whenever St. Benedict performed a religious act, he did so with a cross in hand -- particularly when he was warding off evil. He did not actively carry around his rules with him though. Him carrying them in the front picture symbolizes their importance to his legacy and to the Christian faith. After all, these rules laid the foundation for Western monasteries and faithful Christians around the world.
In 1880, Italian Christian monks got together to commemorate the 1400th anniversary of St. Benedict’s death. In doing so, they created a Jubilee edition of the St. Benedict Medal. This edition of the medal is now the most famous version. The differences between the Jubilee medal and the pre-Jubilee medal are minor.
For instance, the Latin phrase “Ejus in obitu etc.” (“His passing, etc.”) is missing on the Jubilee medal. This missing phrase subtracts little if anything from the overall meaning of the medal. Another difference is the listing of the location and year of the first Jubilee medal being struck. On the front of the medal is “ex SM Casino MDCCCLXXX” which translates to “from holy Monte Cassino, 1880.” Monte Cassino is a hill in Italy upon which the Abbey of Montecassino is located, which was home to the Italian monks who created the Jubilee medal.
Where Can I Get a St. Benedict Medal?
Getting a Jubilee edition of the St. Benedict Medal is simple. Just go online and purchase one.
At Catholically.com one can find a vast collection of St. Benedict’s medals. They come in a variety of colors and are made from a range of metals. How much you’ll spend on a medal should depend on your intentions with the medal. Do you want to wear it around your neck or carry it in your pocket? Do you want the medal to look like jewelry? Your budget should match your desires accordingly.
The St. Benedict Medal is a powerful supplement to your faith. When used with earnesty and coupled with prayer, the medal can act as barrier between you and evil.
Check out our BLOG: CATHOLICALLY TODAY: LOVE, PRAY, WRITE to read more interesting articles.