Sacramentals are part of the rich treasure trove of our Church. The St. Benedict Medal is one of these sacramentals and has been in use by Catholics for centuries. Why is this particular medal so important? Well, St. Benedict had many encounters with the devil throughout his life and overcame him, with the help of God. St. Benedict is the patron saint against many forms of evil influence and his medal is used as a reminder to ask St. Benedict’s intercession for spiritual protection and a reminder of the battle taking place between heaven and hell for our souls. Let’s take a closer look at the symbolism and meaning of this efficacious sacramental.
On the front of the medal is an image of St. Benedict, holding his holy rule and a cross. On his right is a raven, carrying away a loaf of poisoned bread, and on his left a snake, representing poison, coming out of a cracked cup. Both the raven and the poisoned drink are found in true stories from the life of St. Benedict. Around the outer edge of the medal are Latin words, which translated mean, “May we be strengthened by His presence at the hour of our death.”
The back of the St. Benedict Medal has fewer pictures, but contains some very interesting Latin. There is a cross seen on the back of the medal. This serves as a reminder to us to pick up our daily crosses and follow Christ. On the cross itself are the letters which stand for the Latin words, Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux: Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux. This translates to May the Holy Cross be my Light: Let not the Dragon be my Guide. The four letters in the outside corners of the cross also stand for Latin words, which when translated read, The Cross of Holy Father Benedict. Lastly, around the border of the medal are 14 other letters, which stand for more Latin words: Begone Satan! And suggest not to me thy vain things; the cup thou offerest me is evil; drink thou thy poison. These words are said to have been used by St. Benedict himself. The first part when he was being tempted in the wilderness and the second, when he was offered a poisoned drink. Both of these trials he overcame by the sign of the Cross. For those of you who are familiar with the Gospels, you may have noticed that the first two words sound familiar. They should! Our Blessed Lord said that very thing during his time of temptation in the desert.
Like many sacramentals, there is no specific way the medal must be used. It can be worn around your neck, on your scapular or kept in your car. Many people hang the medal up somewhere in their homes. There is a tradition that a St. Benedict Medal placed above your front door, will keep diabolical influences out of your home. However when using the St. Benedict medal, it is important to remember that it is not some sort of ‘magic charm’ since sacramentals do not have powers in and of themselves, but only through the merits and prayers of the Church and her saints. Rather, this medal is a reminder to invoke St. Benedict’s intercession and protection against the evil one. As with all sacramentals, the St. Benedict Medal should remind us of God’s presence, help us in our spiritual battles, and assist us on our journey to heaven.
St. Benedict, pray for us!