Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Medal of St. Benedict

The only medal I have ever worn with pride is the loyalty medal I received from my grammar school Alma Matter, St. Benedict’s.  The shiny gold medal of St. Benedict looped through the red and white ribbon and hung around my neck on graduation day symbolized eight years of study of faith, prayer and virtue. The backbone of my faith, the learning of right and wrong, rested on this fine school which taught me to begin each day with a consecration to Mary, to love the living rosary, to kneel before the Sacrament of Confession with humility and fostered a Sacred Heart devotion to the First Fridays Mass novenas.   

Our school foundress, who had ties to the Scholastican nuns, seemed enamored with the sacramental of the medal for some reason.  Once, when the neighboring restaurant caught fire, she threw a medal at the flames that threatened to cross over our fence and stopped the blazes in its tracks. The medal too was imprinted in our school uniforms.   And I heard her tell quite a few people to place the medal under the pillows and mattresses of some troubled souls.

The medal of St. Benedict in it’s various smaller forms has never been more than an arms reach away since I graduated…it’s been hidden in the zippers of my purses, dangled on my keychain, tucked in our dash, buried in our soil, tacked to our front door.  Mostly because of a story my mom told me once: that a woman she knew, who carried the medal with her devoutly, was involved in a totaled car wreck.  While her companions were taken to ER with various injuries, not a scratch was found on her.

I’ve always known the mysterious medal to keep me safe but I never knew why.  Today, on the Feast of St. Benedict, I figure it’s about time to learn what exactly all those letters stand for and the powers behind it:

St. Benedict stands on the front of the medal holding the cross to remind us of the work of evangelization. He holds the Rule of St. Benedict, which exhorts not just the Benedictines but the faithful, to “Set out on God’s way, with the Gospel for our guide.” The poisoned cup to the pedestal on his right shattered when he made the sign of the cross over it, one of the miracles he performed while alive.  The other miracle is evidenced on his left: the raven who carried away the poisoned bread that threatened St. Benedict’s life.  
Above these two are the Latin words Crux S. Patris Benedicti  (The cross of our holy father Benedict.)  Encircling the image are the Latin words Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur! Which means May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death –St. Benedict being the Benedictine patron of a happy death.

The cross dominant divides the back of the medal.  On the vertical arms of the cross are the initial letters to the Latin prayer Crux sacra sit mihi lux! Horizontally, the initials read: Nunquam draco sit mihi dux! (May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my guide!)

The letters on the four corners of the cross CSPB stand for Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti which translates to ‘the cross of our holy father Benedict.’

PAX, meaning peace, sits atop the cross.

Now for the most powerful part:  Around the margin of the back of the medal are the letters VRSNSMV-SMQLIVB, which are initials to the Latin prayers of exorcism against Satan:  Vade retro Satana! Nunquam suade mihi vana! Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas!  (Be gone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil.  Drink the poison yourself!)

The Benedictines confirm the medal's importance far more than any Olympic win:  “The purpose of using the medal is to call down God’s blessing and protection on us, wherever we are, and upon our homes and possessions, especially through the intercession of St. Benedict…the medal is a prayer of exorcism against Satan, a prayer in time of temptation, a prayer for peace among ourselves and among the nations of the world, a prayer that the cross of Christ be our light and guide, a prayer of firm rejection of all that is evil, a prayer of petition that we may with Christian courage walk in God’s ways, with the Gospel as our guide.”  (For more, visit www.litpress.org)

Oh wow! All those years, I'd been walking around and it's been fighting and deflecting evil like Captain America's shield. No wonder it is on the exorcism cross!

             So now that I know what it means, how can I not share the superpowers of God through St. Benedict's intercession contained in a sacramental?  And how can you not go out and buy yourselves a handful of medals?

 (Make sure it is blessed with the Benedictine blessing by any priest. Here’s the  blessing. Visit the spiritdaily.com store to buy the cross with the medal.)


mary333 said...

You have no idea how grateful I am for this post, Anabelle! I've been trying to find more information about the St. Benedict Medal and I was happy to find that you wrote about it. I wear the Cross with the medal in the center every single day. I also recently bought the medal alone for my home and was wondering about the Benedictine blessing. Both of mine were blessed by a priest but not with the Benedictine blessing and recently another blogger (Barb at Suffering with Joy - great blog) mentioned this particular blessing to me. I was wondering what the words meant and after reading this post I'm very glad I am wearing it (though it still needs the Benedictine blessing).

Thanks for the stories too!

Claire said...

I cannot tell you how much I want a St. Benedict Medal after reading this post. What wonderful blessings it has brought to your life, and the lives of others. Definitely going on my wish list now :) Thank you & God Bless!

Anabelle Hazard said...

Mary, my husband wears that cross, too.
Claire, you won't regret owning one.

Anabelle Hazard said...

Mary, my husband wears that cross, too.
Claire, you won't regret owning one.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Thank you for this very informative post.

God bless.