The Medal of St. Benedict
There is indeed no medal which possesses such wonderful power and none so highly esteemed by the holy Church as the Medal of St. Benedict. Whosoever wears this medal with devotion, trusting to the life-giving power of the holy Cross and the merits of the holy Father St. Benedict, may expect the powerful protection of this great Patriarch in his spiritual and temporal needs.
ORIGIN OF THE MEDAL
The origin of the Medal probably dates back to the time of St. Benedict himself, of whom we know that, in his frequent combats with the evil spirit, he generally made use of the Sign of the Cross and wrought many miracles thereby. He also taught his disciples to use the Sign of our redemption against the assaults of Satan and in other dangers. St. Maurus and St. Placidus, his first and most renowned disciples, wrought their numerous miracles through the power of the holy Cross and in the name and by the merits of their holy Founder.
The Medal of St. Benedict became more widely known through the following wonderful occurrence: Bruno, afterwards Pope Leo IX, had in his youth been bitten by a venomous reptile, in consequence of which he was seriously ill for two months. He had lost the use of speech and was soon reduced to a skeleton. All hopes of his recovery had been abandoned, when suddenly he beheld a luminous ladder that reached to Heaven, from which descended a venerable old man wearing the habit of a monk. It was St. Benedict, bearing in his hand a radiant cross, with which he touched the swollen face of Bruno and instantly cured him. Then the apparition disappeared.
Bruno, who had been healed in such a miraculous manner, later on entered the Order of St. Benedict. He ascended the papal throne in the year 1048 under the name of Leo IX and was renowned in the Church for his sanctity, his devotion to the holy Cross and to St. Benedict. Through this pope the Medal of St. Benedict was enriched with special blessings, and its veneration spread everywhere. The use of the Medal was solemnly approved and recommended to the faithful by Pope Benedict XIV in 1742.
THE BLESSING OF THE MEDAL OF ST. BENEDICT
The Medal of St. Benedict must be blessed by a Benedictine Father, or by a priest especially authorized. [The blessing can now be given by any priest (Instr., 26 Sept. 1964; Can. 1168). Also, Dom Gueranger states that the Medal is powerful even without the special Benedictine blessing. – Publisher, 1995]. There are three solemn prayers of the Church for the blessing of the Medal.
The first prayer is an exorcism of the wicked spirit, to make void his evil influence, with the earnest petition that the Medal be for the welfare of the body and soul of the wearer. The second prayer is a fervent petition:
O Almighty God, the Giver of all good gifts, we humbly beseech Thee that Thou wouldst bestow, through the intercession of the holy Father St. Benedict, Thy blessing upon these Medals, their letters and characters designed by Thee, that all who wear them and strive to perform good works may obtain health of body and soul, the grace of salvation, the indulgences conceded to us, and by the assistance of Thy mercy, escape the snares and deceptions of the devil and appear holy and stainless in Thy sight. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen
The third prayer is very impressive in virtue of the detailed and solemn commemoration of the agony, sufferings and death of Our Lord.
After the blessing, the Medals cannot be sold; otherwise, the blessing is lost. Medals must be bought before they are blessed.
DESCRIPTION OF THE MEDAL
We distinguish two types of the Medal of St. Benedict: the ordinary medal, and that of Monte Cassino, which is known as the Jubilee [or Centenary] Medal. We describe here only the Jubilee Medal.
The Jubilee Medal was struck in 1880 under the supervision of the monks of Monte Cassino, Italy, to mark the 1400th anniversary of the birth of St. Benedict. Monte Cassino was given the exclusive right to strike this medal, and special Jubilee indulgences were added. The design of the Jubilee Medal was produced at St. Martin's Archabbey, Beuron, Germany, at the request of the prior of Montecassino, Very Rev. Boniface Krug OSB (1838-1909). Prior Boniface was a native of Baltimore and originally a monk of St. Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, until he was chosen to become prior and latter archabbot of Monte Cassino.
On one side, the Medal has a cross, the sign of our redemption, the protecting shield given us by God to ward off the fiery arrows of the evil spirit. At the top of the cross usually stands the word PAX (peace) or the monogram I H S (Jesus).
In the angles of the cross are found these four letters: C.S.P.B. They stand for the words: Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti – " The Cross of the Holy Father Benedict."
On the vertical bar of the cross itself are found the letters: C.S.S.M.L., and on the horizontal bar of the cross: N.D.S.M.D. They signify:
|Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux,|
Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux
|May the holy Cross be my light,|
Let not the dragon be my guide.
Round the margin of the Medal, beginning at the right hand on top, we have the following letters: V.R.S.N.S.M.V.--S.M.Q.L.I.V.B., They stand for the verses:
|Vade Retro, Satana!|
Nunquam Suade Mihi Vana.
Sunt Mala Quae Libas
Ipse Venena Bibas.
The English words are:
Suggest not vain things to me.
Evil is the cup thou offerest;
Drink thou thine own poison.
The reverse of the Medal bears the image of St. Benedict holding in his right hand the Cross, in the power of which he wrought so many miracles, and in his left hand bearing the holy Rule, which leads all its followers by the way of the Cross to eternal light.
On a pedestal to the right of St. Benedict is the poisoned cup, shattered when he made the sign of the cross over it. On a pedestal to the left is a raven about to carry away a loaf of poisoned bread that a jealous enemy had sent to St. Benedict. Above the cup and the raven are the Latin words: Crux S-Patris Benedicti. [The initials C.S.P.B. are found on the reverse side – see above.]
Round the margin is the inscription: Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur – "May his presence protect us in the hour of our death."
Below St. Benedict we read: ex SM Casino MDCCCLXXX (from holy Monte Cassino, 1880).
THE POWER AND EFFECTS OF THE MEDAL
Let us state here that we do not ascribe any unknown or hidden power to the Medal, a power which the superstitious ascribe to their charms. We know wherein its power lies, and we protest that the graces and favors are due, not to the gold or the silver, the brass or aluminum of the Medal, but to our faith in the merits of Christ crucified, to the efficacious prayers of the holy Father St. Benedict, and to the blessings which the holy Church bestows upon the Medal and upon those who wear it. This Medal excludes every power or influence which is not from above.
Through the pious use of the Medal of St. Benedict thousands of miracles and wonderful cures have been obtained. We would here mention that in the last few years we have received a number of letters relating most remarkable cures and extraordinary favors obtained by the devout use of the said Medal. It is, indeed, edifying to see how that faithful love and venerate this highly blessed Medal and how anxious they are to obtain this holy article, which has proved to be a remedy to almost every evil.
The Medal of St. Benedict is powerful to ward off all dangers of body and soul coming from the evil spirit. We are exposed to the wicked assaults of the devil day and night. St. Peter says, "Your adversary the devil, as roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8). In the life of St. Benedict we see how the devil tried to do harm to his soul and body, and also to his spiritual children. Father Paul of Moll, saintly Flemish Benedictine wonder-worker (1824-1896), frustrated the evil doings of the spirit of darkness chiefly through the use of the Medal of St. Benedict, which has proved a most powerful protection against the snares and delusions of the old enemy. Missionaries in pagan lands use this Medal with so great effect that it has been given the remarkable name, "The devil-chasing Medal."
The Medal is, therefore, a powerful means:
- To destroy witchcraft and all other diabolical influences.
- To keep away the spells of magicians, of wicked and evil-minded persons.
- To impart protection to persons tempted, deluded or tormented by evil spirits.
- To obtain the conversion of sinners, especially when they are in danger of death.
- To serve as an armor in temptations against holy purity.
- 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.
Finally, the Medal has often been used with admirable effect even for animals infected with plague or other maladies, and for fields when invaded by harmful insects.
THE USE OF THE MEDAL
It may be worn about the neck, attached to the scapular or the rosary, or otherwise carried devoutly about one's person. For the sick it can be placed on wounds, dipped in medicine or in water which is given to them to drink.
The Medal is frequently put into the foundation of houses or in walls, hung over doors, or fastened on stables and barns to call down God's protection and blessing. It is also buried in fields, as the saintly Father Paul of Moll advised his friends to do.
No particular prayers are prescribed, for the very wearing and use of the Medal is considered a silent prayer to God to grant us, through the merits of St. Benedict, the favors we request. However, for obtaining extraordinary favors, it is highly recommended to perform special devotions in honor of the holy Father St. Benedict, for instance, on Tuesday, on which day the Church commemorates the death of the holy Patriarch. The Way of the Cross is also highly recommended or a novena to St. Benedict. His feast is celebrated March 21st, two days after the feast of St. Joseph.
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
(This prayer may be said when using the Medal for any pious purpose.)
Novena Prayer to St. Benedict
O glorious St. Benedict, sublime model of virtue, pure vessel of God's grace! Behold me humbly kneeling at thy feet. I implore thee, in thy loving kindness, to pray for me before the throne of God. To thee do I have recourse in the dangers that daily surround me. Shield me against my selfishness and my indifference to God and to my neighbor. Inspire me to imitate thee in all things. May thy blessing be with me always, so that I may see and serve Christ in others and work for His kingdom.
Graciously obtain for me from God these favors and graces which I need so much in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life. Thy heart was always full of love, compassion and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. Thou didst never dismiss without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to thee. I therefore invoke thy powerful intercession, confident in the hope that thou wilt hear my prayers and obtain for me the special grace and favor I earnestly implore. (Name your petition.)
Help me, great St. Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to run in the sweetness of His loving will and to attain the eternal happiness of Heaven. Amen.
Most of the above is taken from The Life of St. Benedict booklet by St. Gregory the Great