This past Friday I spoke to Peter’s former pediatrician, a doctor who has become a dear friend and spiritual mentor. What started off as a conversation about medicine ended with her imparting some spiritual wisdom. She spoke to me about Saint Benedict and how his medals are a source of protection. As I was sitting down to plan our family’s upcoming week, I realized that this Monday, July 11th, is his Feast Day.
In high school I had a devotion to Saint Benedict and wore his medal after visiting the Abbey of Montecassino with my family. It was stunning there, and so peaceful. Throughout college my devotion to him increased. Unfortunately, over the past decade, I haven’t been as close to this great Saint as I would like. Hearing my friend speak about him the other night reminded me of how powerful his intercession is and how I should rekindle that heavenly friendship.
Saint Benedict was born in 480 in Norcia, Italy and was the twin brother of Saint Scholastica. Wealthy, intelligent, and wise, Saint Benedict chose to give up his large inheritance after studying in Rome and witnessing the impact the allurements of the world could have on the soul. Fleeing to the solitude that the mountains of Subiaco offered, Saint Benedict lived as a hermit, offering his life totally to God.
His holiness and radical lifestyle attracted others. Saint Benedict created a community that became the basis of the Church’s monastic system. His Rule carried great influence in Western monasticism during his time and has been used for over fifteen centuries. Known for elevating the importance and dignity of work, routine, and discipline, the Saint Benedict motto “ora et labora” (pray and work) captures the Benedictine way of life.
Wearing a blessed Saint Benedict Medal can be a source of spiritual protection and a sign of your devotion to this great Saint. This sacramental is extremely detailed and each part of it has a meaning. Let’s take a look!
The top image on the front of the medal shows a depiction of Saint Benedict, with a cross in his right hand and a book, signifying his Rule, in his left. Written in Latin to his right and left are the words: Crux s. patris Benedicti (The Cross of our Holy Father Benedict). Encircling Saint Benedict around the periphery are the Latin words: Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur! (May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death!). There is a raven and cup on either side of him, signifying the attempts of poisoning that he miraculously overcame. At his feet are the date and location of the imprinting of the medal.
On the back of the medal, vertically and horizontally on the cross’s pillars read the initial letters of the Latin: Crux sacra sit mihi lux! Nunquam draco sit mihi dux! (May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my guide!). The C S P B surrounding the cross signify Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti (The cross of our holy father Benedict). Above the cross we see the Benedictine motto, Pax, meaning “peace.” The letters V R S N S M V – S M Q L I V B are the initial lettersof a Latin prayer of exorcism against Satan: 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!)
If you have a Saint Benedict Medal (most Catholic gift shops have them or you can ask your parish for one!), be sure to get it blessed by a priest. Here is the blessing prayer:
Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Who made heaven and earth.
In the name of God the Father + almighty, who made heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in them, I exorcise these medals against the power and attacks of the evil one. May all who use these medals devoutly be blessed with health of soul and body. In the name of the Father + almighty, of the Son + Jesus Christ our Lord, and of the Holy + Spirit the Paraclete, and in the love of the same Lord Jesus Christ who will come on the last day to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire.
Let us pray.
Almighty God, the boundless source of all good things, we humbly ask that, through the intercession of Saint Benedict, you pour out your blessings + upon these medals. May those who use them devoutly and earnestly strive to perform good works be blessed by you with health of soul and body, the grace of a holy life, and remission of the temporal punishment due to sin. May they also with the help of your merciful love, resist the temptation of the evil one and strive to exercise true charity and justice toward all, so that one day they may appear sinless and holy in your sight. This we ask through Christ our Lord.
The cleric then sprinkles the medals with holy water.
(Permissu superiorum. Nihil obstat and Imprimatur, 24 April 1980.)
I hope you have a beautiful Feast Day! Saint Benedict, pray for us!
Listen to the latest
Tune into the Finding Philothea Podcast where my husband, Mike, and I share the mercy, beauty, and joy of a life lived for Christ.