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The Origin of the Medal of St. Benedict

See our St. Benedict Crucifix, made of Holy Land olive wood.

Origin of the Medal of Saint Benedict

 For early Christians the Cross was a favorite symbol and badge of their faith in Christ. From the writings of St. Gregory the Great, we know that St. Benedict had a deep faith in the Cross and worked miracles with the sign of the Cross. This faith in, and special devotion to, the Cross was passed on to succeeding generations of Benedictines.

This special devotion to the Cross of Christ also gave rise to the striking of medals that had the image of St. Benedict holding a cross in his right hand and his Rule for Monasteries in the other. Thus, the Cross has always been closely associated with the Medal of St. Benedict. This is often referred to as the Medal Cross of St. Benedict.

It is not known when the first medal of St. Benedict was struck. At some point in history a series of capital letters was placed around the large figure of the cross on the reverse side of the medal of St. Benedict. The meaning of these letters were unknown for a long time. In 1647 a manuscript dating back to 1415 was found at the Abbey of Metten in Bavaria which gave an explanation of the letters. They are the initial letters of a Latin prayer of exorcism against Satan.

(Related Article) The St. Benedict Medal - Crucifix

The origin of the medal of Medal of St. Benedict Crucifix is very from long ago.

It was certainly suggested by the efficacious use that the patriarch made of the sign of the cross against the assaults of the Demon narrated by St. Gregorio.

Benedict XIV established the design of this medal. On one side of the medal it carries the image of St. Benedict holding a cross in his hand. On the other side of the medal there is a larger cross with Latin initials. Due to the fact that the cross represented here is an essential element of this medal, it is called the Medal - Crucifix of  St. Benedict.

On the back there is the effigy of St. Benedict, holding the cross in his right hand and the Rules for Moneastaries in his left hand; on his right of the medal there is a cup from which a serpent is escaping. This is a recollection of the poisoned wine which he miraculously escaped. On the left of the medal we have a crow taking away the poisoned bread.

On the front of the Medal of St. Benedict, a Cross is represented which carries several inscriptions in the arms, the explanations of which follow:

C.S.P.B.: CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI (The cross of our Holy Father Benedict).
C.S.S.M.L.: CRUX SACRA SIT MIHI LUX (May the Holy Cross be my light!)
N.D.S.M.D.: NUNQUAM DRACO SIT MIHI DUX! (May the dragon never be my guide.)
V.R.S.: VADE RETRO SATANA (Begone Satan!)
N.S.M.V.:  NUNQUAM SUADE MIHI VANA! (Never tempt me with your vanities! )
S.M.Q.L.: SUNT MALA QUAE LIBAS (What you offer me is evil.)
I.V.B.: IPSE VENEA BIBAS (Drink the poison yourself! )

“PAX” is written under the Cross. This is the motto of the Congregation of Cassino and of the entire Benedictine Order.

The three internal eulogistic rhyming couplets on the medal of St. Benedict are part of a very ancient series dating back at least to the XIV century which is accompanied by the figure of a monk with the cross driving away temptation.

Some scholars have affirmed that with the exception of the one of the Most Holy Virgin, there is no other more widely diffuse Medal than that of the Medal of St. Benedict. The numerous indulgences which the Holy See has enriched it with, witness its singular prize and together contribute to making it the most dear and precious medal to the Christian people.

The Medal of St. Benedict Crucifix is used for all spiritual and temporal needs on condition that it is used with a faithful spirit.The medal of St. Benedict is very ancient. Its popularity was born in the XI century following the miraculous healing of a youth named Bruno, who then became a Benedictine monk and later Pope S. Leone IX.

 Note: The Medal of St. Benedict Crucifix must be blessed by a priest or by a deacon.