Friday, July 11, 2014

St Benedict's Medal

The medal of St Benedict, front and back.
Today being the feast of Saint Benedict, I thought of sharing with you the symbolism of the medal that had widespread use after its formal approval by Pope Benedict XIV in the 18th century. The medal is used by Catholics to ward off spiritual and physical dangers, especially those related to evil, poison, and temptation. On the front of the medal is Saint Benedict holding a cross in his right hand, the object of his devotion, and in the left his rule for monasteries. In the back is a poisoned cup, in reference to the legend of Benedict, which explains that hostile monks attempted to poison him: the cup containing poisoned wine shattered when the saint made the sign of the cross over it (and a raven carried away a poisoned loaf of bread). Above the cup are the words "Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti" (The Cross of our Holy Father Benedict). Surrounding the figure of Saint Benedict are the words “Eius In Obitu Nostro Praesentia Muniamur!” (May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death), since he was always regarded by the Benedictines as the patron of a happy death.
On the back is a cross, containing the letters C S S M L - N D S M D, 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 large 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, in reference to “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!) and finally, located at the top is the word PAX which means "peace."

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