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Story of St Benedict's Medal

Updated: Feb 27, 2023


Life of St Benedict


Known for his faithful prayer, exorcism, and role in establishing western monasticism, St Benedict is revered as a pivotal figure for Catholics all over the world. Portrayed in simple black dress and holding a book, he expresses simplicity and serenity.


Benedict was born in a noble Roman family and had a twin sibling, Scholastica. He studied in Rome, Italy, but was dismayed by the lack of discipline and lackadaisical attitude of his fellow students. He then fled to the mountains near Subiaco, Italy, and lived as a hermit in a cave for three years.


Showing virtues in his way of living, Benedict was asked by an abbey to set up and lead a monastery. He then founded one at Monte Cassino, where he wrote the Rule of his order. Due to his discipline and determination, he received resistance by fellow monks who made an attempt to kill Benedict by poison. However, he blessed the poisoned cup and rendered it harmless as God protected him. He returned to his cave but his story continued to attract followers and Benedict subsequently established a total of twelve monasteries at Monte Cassino.


St Benedict's Medal


During his life, St. Benedict was known to work many miracles using the power of the Holy Cross. Among these included his heroic flight from temptations and miraculous escapes from traps set to kill him.


Saint Benedict became known for his power over the Devil, with the Holy Cross as his efficacious instrument to make the Devil flee. The St. Benedict medal is based on this tradition.


The medal as we commonly know it today (the Jubilee medal) was first made in 1880 to commemorate the fourteenth centenary anniversary of St. Benedict's birth by the Archabbey of Monte Cassino, the most important monastery established by the Saint in the 6th century.


On the front of the medal is St. Benedict holding a cross and his rule. To one side is a poisoned cup and a raven on the other―both references to a Benedictine hagiography mentioned earlier. Above the cup are the words:


Crux sancti patris Benedicti

(The Cross of [our] Holy Father Benedict)


Surrounding St. Benedict are the words:


Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur!

("May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death")


This is a reference to the saint being a Patron of a Happy Death along with St. Joseph. On the back is a cross with the letters C S S M L - N D S M D. these are the initials of the words:


Crux sacra sit mihi lux! Non draco sit mihi dux!

("May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my overlord!")


The larger letters, C S P B, stand for:


Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti

("The Cross of [our] Holy Father Benedict").


Surrounding the back of the medal are the letters V R S N S M V - S M Q L I V B which refer to the prayer of the Rite of Exorcism:


Vade retro Satana! Nunquam suade mihi vana!

Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas!

("Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!")

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