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The History and Meaning of the St Benedict Medal

by Danijel Dubljevic 19 Apr 2023 0 Comments

Origins of the St. Benedict Medal

The St. Benedict Medal has a rich history dating back to the 11th century. Although the medal's origins are somewhat uncertain, it is widely believed that the first St. Benedict Medal was struck in the Abbey of Monte Cassino, Italy, as a tribute to St. Benedict of Nursia. Over the years, the medal has evolved, and the current design became standardized in the 17th century. The development of the St. Benedict Medal is closely linked to the spread of Christianity in Europe and the growth of monasticism during the Middle Ages.

Benedict of Nursia: The Man Behind the Medal

St. Benedict was born in Nursia, Italy, in 480 AD and is known as the founder of Western monasticism. He established several monastic communities and wrote his famous Rule, a set of guidelines for monastic life that emphasized balance, moderation, and spiritual growth. St. Benedict's influence extended throughout Europe and continues to inspire people today. Some famous historical figures, such as St. Gregory the Great and St. Scholastica, were known to be devotees of St. Benedict and his teachings.

The Purpose of the St. Benedict Medal

The St. Benedict Medal is a constant reminder of St. Benedict's teachings, his commitment to prayer and work, and the importance of spiritual warfare against evil. The medal is also considered a powerful sacramental that offers spiritual protection to those who wear or carry it. In various Christian denominations, the St. Benedict Medal is highly regarded for its protective qualities and connection to the legacy of St. Benedict.

 

Design Elements of the St. Benedict Medal

 

The Front of the Medal

The front of the St. Benedict Medal features the image of St. Benedict holding a cross in his right hand and his Rule in his left hand. Above him is the Latin inscription "Crux S. Patris Benedicti" (The Cross of the Holy Father Benedict), while the words "Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur!" (May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death!) encircle the medal. The detailed design of the medal's front inspires devotion and encourages reflection on St. Benedict's teachings.

 

The Back of the Medal

The back of the medal displays a cross with various inscriptions and letters, each with a specific meaning. Around the cross, the inscription "Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux! Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux!" (May the Holy Cross be my light! Let not the dragon be my guide!) is written. The intricate symbolism on the back of the medal is a powerful reminder of the spiritual battle against evil.

 

The Significance of the Symbols and Inscriptions

 

The Latin Inscriptions on the Medal

 

The Vade Retro Satana Inscription

One of the most notable inscriptions on the St. Benedict Medal is "Vade Retro Satana" (Begone, Satan!), a powerful reminder of our need to resist temptation and evil. This phrase has been used in exorcisms and prayers for centuries, emphasizing the medal's connection to spiritual warfare.

 

The Initials on the Cross

The initials on the cross stand for various Latin phrases that further emphasize the medal's purpose:

  • "C.S.S.M.L." stands for "Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux" (May the Holy Cross be my light).
  • "N.D.S.M.D." stands for "Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux" (Let not the dragon be my guide)
  • "C.S.P.B." stands for "Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti" (The Cross of the Holy Father Benedict).
  • "V.R.S." stands for "Vade Retro Satana" (Begone, Satan!).
  • "N.S.M.V." stands for "Numquam Suade Mihi Vana" (Never persuade me to vain things).
  • "S.M.Q.L." stands for "Sunt Mala Quae Libas" (What you offer is evil).
  • "I.V.B." stands for "Ipse Venena Bibas" (Drink your own poison).

 

The Symbolism of the St. Benedict Medal

The various symbols on the St. Benedict Medal serve as reminders of the spiritual battle between good and evil. The cross represents the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the triumph of good over evil. At the same time, the inscriptions act as powerful prayers against the devil and his temptations. According to St. Gregory the Great, St. Benedict himself was known to have performed exorcisms and fought against evil spirits, further emphasizing the significance of the symbolism on the medal.

 

The Use and Power of the St. Benedict Medal

 

Spiritual Benefits and Protection

The St. Benedict Medal is believed to offer spiritual protection to those who wear or carry it. Many people use the medal as a shield against evil forces, temptation, and spiritual harm. The medal is also thought to provide protection from physical dangers, such as accidents, illness, and natural disasters. For example, during the Middle Ages, travelers often used the medal as a form of protection on their journeys.

 

How to Use the St. Benedict Medal

There is no specific ritual or prayer required to use the St. Benedict Medal. Still, it is common for individuals to have their medals blessed by a priest. The medal can be worn around the neck, carried in a pocket, or placed in one's home, car, or workplace. The key is to use the medal as a tangible reminder of St. Benedict's teachings and to call upon his intercession in times of need.

In some Christian traditions, the St. Benedict Medal is incorporated into other sacramentals, such as rosaries and crucifixes. This combination of symbols serves to amplify the spiritual protection and benefits associated with each item.

 

Conclusion

The St. Benedict Medal is a powerful sacramental with a rich history and deep spiritual significance. The medal serves as a reminder of St. Benedict's teachings, the importance of spiritual warfare, and the power of prayer. Using the St. Benedict Medal, we can draw upon the protection and guidance of St. Benedict in our daily lives, strengthening our faith and resilience in the face of life's challenges. St. Benedict once said, "The road that leads to salvation is narrow, and it is a steep climb, but God has made it smooth through the loving-kindness of Jesus Christ."

 

FAQs

  1. What is the purpose of the St. Benedict Medal? The St. Benedict Medal reminds of St. Benedict's teachings and offers spiritual protection to those who wear or carry it.
  2. What does the St. Benedict Medal look like? The medal features an image of St. Benedict holding a cross and his Rule on the front, with a cross and various inscriptions and letters on the back.
  3. Do I need to have my St. Benedict Medal blessed? Although not required, it is common for individuals to have their medals blessed by a priest.
  4. How should I use the St. Benedict Medal? The medal can be worn around the neck, carried in a pocket, or placed in one's home, car, or workplace as a constant reminder of St. Benedict's teachings and to call upon his intercession in times of need.
  5. What does the inscription "Vade Retro Satana" mean? "Vade Retro Satana" is Latin for "Begone, Satan!" and is a powerful reminder to resist temptation and evil.
  6. What are some examples of how the St. Benedict Medal has been used historically? During the Middle Ages, travelers often used the St. Benedict Medal as a form of protection on their journeys. Additionally, the medal has been utilized in exorcisms and prayers for centuries, emphasizing its connection to spiritual warfare.
  7. Is the St. Benedict Medal significant in different Christian denominations? Yes, the St. Benedict Medal is held in high regard in various Christian denominations for its protective qualities and its connection to the legacy of St. Benedict.
  8. How does the St. Benedict Medal relate to other sacramentals, such as rosaries and crucifixes? In some Christian traditions, the St. Benedict Medal is incorporated into other sacramentals like rosaries and crucifixes. This combination of symbols serves to amplify the spiritual protection and benefits associated with each item.
  9. What role does St. Benedict's Rule play in the medal's significance? St. Benedict's Rule is a set of guidelines for monastic life that emphasizes balance, moderation, and spiritual growth. The Rule is featured on the front of the medal as a reminder of St. Benedict's teachings and his dedication to a life of prayer and work.
  10. Can the St. Benedict Medal help strengthen my faith? Using the St. Benedict Medal as a tangible reminder of St. Benedict's teachings and calling upon his intercession in times of need can help improve your faith and resilience in life's challenges.
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