We are aware that in this age of ours, when the Devil is thought by many to be an imaginary rather than a real being, it will seem to be strange that a Medal should be made, and blessed, and used as a preservative against the power of the wicked spirit. And yet, the holy Scriptures give us abundant instructions upon the ever busy power of the Devils, as also upon the dangers to which we are exposed both in soul and body by the snares they set for us. The not believing in the existence of Devils, or the ridiculing the accounts which are told of their operations, is not enough to destroy their power, and, in spite of this incredulity, the air is filled with legions of these spirits of wickedness, as S. Paul teaches us. (Ephesians ii, 2; vi, 12)
Were it not that God protected us by the ministry of the holy Angels, and this generally without our being aware of it, it would be impossible for us to escape the countless snares of these enemies of all God’s creatures. But if there ever was a time when it would seem to be superfluous to prove the existence of wicked spirits, it is now, when we find reappearing amongst us those dangerous and sinful practices, which were used by the pagans of old, and now again by christians for the purpose of eliciting an answer from spirits, though these can be no other than evil and lying ones. Surely our age is credulous enough in the existence of devils, when we find it so fashionable to be using again those consultings of the dead, and oracles, and superstitions, which Satan employed for keeping men under his power during so many hundred years.
There is one special influence which the Medal of Holy Father S. Benedict possesses, and which may be called the principal object for which God gave this gift to his faithful people - the power it possesses to spoil the devil’s designs. We here mention a few facts which will do more than merely interest our readers; they will suggest to them what they themselves may do, should they ever find themselves in circumstances which now-a-days are anything but impossible.
In 1665, at Luxeuil in France, a young man, possessed by the wicked spirit, was most cruelly tormented. His parents had employed every means to free him from this state, but all had failed. In this extremity, it came into their minds to have recourse to the Medal of S. Benedict. They made their son drink some water into which they had dipped the medal. Scarce had the boy raised the cup to his lips, than the devil began to torment his victim with such unusual violence that the by-standers were struck with terror. The parents, however, were consoled by hearing the devil declare, by the mouth of their son, that he felt himself controlled by a superior power, and that he would go out of the boy at the third hour of the night. So in effect it happened: the infernal spirit went at the time mentioned, and the boy was restored to peace of mind and health of body.
The following fact took place at Luxeuil about the same time. A young girl was irresistibly compelled by the wicked spirit to utter, at every turn, the most obscene words. One would have thought that the devil had taken up his abode on the lips of his victim. In order to free her from this violence of the enemy of every virtue, her friends gave her also some water to drink which had been sanctified by the contact of the Medal of S. Benedict. Immediately she felt herself freed from this wretched compulsion, nor did she ever after transgress, in her words, the rules of Christian modesty.
In the year 1666, the Castle of Maillot, not many miles from Besançon, was infested by devils. Its inmates were being continually alarmed by hearing strange noises, and numbers of their cattle were dying from unknown distempers. At length such was the terror, that the building was abandoned. Some pious persons recommended the Medal of S. Benedict being hung up here and there on the walls of the Castle, and the event justified their confidence. Instantly all cause of fear disappeared, the house was perfectly quiet, and the inmates lived in it henceforward without being molested.
A gentleman of our acquaintance happened, in the year 1858, to be in a town of the department of Vienne. At a party of friends to which he had been invited, the conversation got on the subject of table-turning, and some of the company began to relate the extraordinary effects they themselves had produced last year. Of course, there were some of the company who laughed at it all - but the conversation ended in their all agreeing to meet in the same house on the following day at noon, when they would see if they could produce any of these strange wonders. Several expressed a scruple on the subject, as to whether one is quite right in having anything to do with such matters; all however came at the appointed hour and the business was fearlessly begun, the customary forms all being carefully gone through. For two long hours were they at work without the slightest result there was no use in trying any longer, but before separating they ventured to express their various opinions as to the cause of this unusual refusal of the spirits to hold any communication. One of the party, a Miss N., expressed her own conviction that the Medals she carried about her, and especially the Medal of S. Benedict, had something to do with it. Another attempt was proposed and agreed to - all were to meet again the next day at eight o’clock in the evening. Miss N., who had left all her Medals at home, refused, when the party had assembled, to take any active part in the operations, for she felt that she had no longer the same protection, and she kept herself as far off as she could from the company, who had already begun their experiments.
In less than half an hour the table began to shake, then to crack: signs that it was going to move of itself. One of the party, a physician, agreed that when it wished to speak, it should strike one of the legs against the floor, twice for yes, and once for no. In a moment or two it raised itself somewhat from the floor: all were delighted, and they began putting their questions. These at last were on trifling subjects, and then the following questions regarding the silence of the previous day.
Q. “Why did you not speak yesterday? Was it because Miss N--. had her Medal of the Blessed Virgin?” A. “No,” Q. “Was it because she had her Medal of S. Benedict?”
A. “Yes.” (The two knocks were very loud). Q. “Would the Medal of the Blessed Virgin have prevented your coming?” A. “No.” It was the case that almost all who were present always wore both the Medal and the Scapular of our Lady.* They then passed on to other questions.
Q. “What is your name? The table then knocked the floor, as had been agreed, when those letters of the alphabet were pronounced which spelt the words required: first it was at S, then at A, then at T. It was unnecessary to be told more, and everyone understood the word before the table had finished the letters, “SATAN.” Several of the party were terrified and left the ring, but the others, who needed more than this to alarm them, went on with their questions. Some of these were on religious and some on scientific subjects, but not one single answer was elicited and twice did the table throw itself completely on the floor, which done, it again began to turn as before. One of the party put this question, “Will you return to-morrow?” The answer was ‘ Yes.” On the same person asking “at what o’clock?” The table gave twelve strokes. Q. “Do you mean twelve at noon?” A. “No.” Q. “Twelve at night?” A. “Yes.”
It would be too long to give here all the other answers which were made to the various questions but the impression made on the persons present was great, and it was impossible for them to doubt who the mysterious agent is who thus communicates with men by means of this “Table-Turning.” The party broke up at eleven, and each one resolved to wear, from that time forward, the Medal of S. Benedict.
* It has seemed strange to some that God should have chosen to grant this by the medal of S. Benedict rather than by that of our Lady. But let them remember, that although the power of the Blessed Mother of God is greater than that of all the Saints together, it is also the practice of the faithful to have recourse to the Saints also. As God sometimes grants us favours by Mary, which he did not grant us when we asked them directly from Himself, so also Mary would have us sometimes receive favours from the Saints, which she herself could easily grant us.
Not far from the city of Rennes, there was a Cafe and Billiard Room kept by a good Catholic family. For the last few years they had noticed strange symptoms of the place being infested with demons. When. there was no one at the billiard-table noises and voices were sometimes heard as though there were a large party playing; pieces of furniture were changed from place to place in the house without any one of the family touching them; doors opened and shut apparently of themselves, and a strange noise was heard in the bedrooms. One Christmas night, the servant had gone up to the attic to get herself ready for the midnight Mass, when she finds all that part of the house filled with a thick smoke, in the midst of which there was a something, which she could not lay hold of, moving to and fro. She screamed, hurried out of the place, and fainted. But these strange appearances were frequently happening, and of course kept the initiates of the house in a state of continual alarm. They had got many masses said for the dead, and had had the house blessed with the formula prescribed by the Church for these occasions, but up to that time all had proved ineffectual. Nothing, therefore, remained for the inmates of the house but to abandon it, though it was quite new, and they had hoped to find it a convenient and comfortable home. A pious woman spoke to them about S. Benedict’s Medal, and persuaded them to make use of it. They began by putting it over every door in the house, and immediately all was quiet. But they had not thought of placing the sign of salvation in the doorway leading to the cellar, and all the fury of the evil spirits seemed to concentrate there, so great was the noise and disorder which began to he heard from this quarter. The Medal was put there also, and the influence of Satan seemed now to be entirely removed from the house; not, however, without his seeking revenge by there and then taking possession of the person who related all this to the writer, and cruel indeed were the sufferings which the devil caused his victim to endure both in body and soul. This person obtained, after some time, deliverance from this terrible trial by following the counsels of an enlightened director, who recommended the poor sufferer not to be afraid of the devil, and to pronounce frequently the holy names of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.