October 13, 2010

The Cross of St. Benedict

[First posted some years ago, but a new comment has arrived today]


Contrary to what you may have read or heard, the real front of this medal is the side with the Cross bearing the initials of several prayers. The real back of the medal bears the image of St. Benedict. Christ’s Cross on the front, St. Benedict on the back!

The prayers whose initials mark the Cross invoke the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross as the force that vanquishes evil.

The vertical beam of the Cross has five letters,
C.S.S.M.L.,
standing for Crux Sancta Sit Mihi Lux (“May the holy Cross be a Light for me”).

The horizontal beam of the Cross also has five letters,
N.D.S.M.D.,
standing for Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux (“Let not the dragon be my guide").

The four large letters at the angles of the Cross,
C, S, P, B,
stand for Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti (“The Cross of Holy Father Benedict”— a reference to St. Benedict, not to the present pope).

Above the Cross is the word PAX (“Peace”). This is the first word the Risen Christ spoke to his Apostolic Church after he died on the Cross and rose from the dead in triumph over sin, death and evil.

Going clockwise from the word PAX are the letters
V.R.S.N.S.M.V.,
and then,
S.M.Q.L.I.V.B.,
standing for:
Vade retro, Satana! Nunquam suade mihi vana! Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas! “Go away, Satan! Never sway me with vanities!
The offerings you pour are evil. Drink the poisons yourself!”

The back of the medal shows St. Benedict holding a cross in one hand and the book of his “Rule” (monastery regulations) in the other.



On either side of him are the words: Crux S. Patris Benedicti (“The Cross of Holy Father Benedict”— again, a reference to St. Benedict, not to the present pope). Below St. Benedict’s feet are these words: Ex S M Casino MDCCCLXXX (“From the Holy Mount of Cassino, 1880”). On that date, the Archabbey of Monte Cassino first issued this medal. Inscribed in the circle surrounding St. Benedict are the words: Ejus in obitu nostro presentia muniamur (“May his presence protect us at our death”).



Approved Blessing of
the Cross of St. Benedict



The Cross of Saint Benedict is a sacramental that may be blessed legitimately by any priest or deacon— not necessarily a Benedictine. The following English form may be used.


[V.] Our help is in the name of the Lord.
[R.] Who made heaven and earth.

In the name of God the Father + almighty,
who made heaven, earth, the seas and all that is in them,
I exorcise this medal against the power and attacks of the evil one.
May all who devoutly use this medal
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, the dead and the world by fire.
Amen.

Let us pray.

Almighty God, the boundless source of all good things,
we humbly ask that you pour out your blessings + upon this medal
through the intercession of Saint Benedict.
May those who devoutly use it
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.
With the help of your merciful love,
may they also 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.
We ask this though Christ our Lord.
Amen.

The medal is then sprinkled with holy water.
- - - -
The medal is available online.


37 Comments:

Anonymous liberty said...

Thanks for the info. I was given a St. Benedict medal by a very kind priest when I was at Monte Casino.

It has always been very important to me because he walked up and gave it to me right after I had what I term my 'profound religious experience' which resulted in my return to Catholicism after years as a self avowed athiest.

It was strange because after that moment when I realized yes, there is a God (mostly because he just smacked me with a spiritual clue by four)... up walked this priest who started talking to me and handed me the medal. Kind of like God was saying 'Not only do I exist, but you are Catholic!'

I have always loved it, but never quite got around to finding out what all fo the letters mean. Thanks!

8:44 AM  
Blogger dilexitprior said...

Fr. Stephanos, you're always one step ahead of my mind!

I just got back from evening Mass in my hometown as I'm visiting family this week. The local parish just got a new marble pulpit and on the front is carved the cross of St Benedict. I recognized the cross but was trying to figure out what one earth the letters meant. I was seriously going to come home and look it up, but you seem to have read my mind and already provided me with an answer. Thanks once again!

8:42 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I love these little bits of reality you present on your blog, Fr. Stephanos. Such things as Church history and the legacy of our Holy Saints was missing from my catechism, although I went to convent school.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

"kevathaide"
I clicked on your profile to find that you're from India. One of the monks of my monastery is from India.

God bless you!

10:45 PM  
Blogger Doogie said...

Fr, I absolutely love my medal. I always thought I was wearing it wackbards - which I didn't mind because I want the enemy to see that holy cross and flee - so it's nice to know that I'm not so muxed ip after all.

Wouldn't it be nice to see a devotion to it spring up again?

9:28 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

It has actually experienced a resurgence in popularity during the last ten years or so.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Father Stephanos;
I am Angelo from Manila, Philippines.I would like to ask if you can send me a St.Benedict Medal.Thanks.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Dear Angelo,
If I were to attempt to send one to you from here in California, I'm not confident it would arrive. It would be best to obtain one through the Benedictines in Manila, either from the Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat (that operates San Beda College) or the Benedictine sisters who operate St. Scholastica.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Gilbert said...

I am very happy to have found your blog, Fr. Stephanos. Some months ago--a deceased relative appeared in a dream and asked me to place a crucifix in my room--I wanted a crucifix which I feel a connection to, and in doing my research I was drawn to a crucifix with the Medal of St Benedict at the center. I have since been very interested in his life and in his devotion to the cross--the most powerful sign of our salvation through Jesus Christ.

Father, is there an adaptation of The Rule you might recommend for married men and families?

My crucifix was blessed by our local parish priest. Will having it blessed again by a Benedictine priest be a good idea?

Also, I yearn to have a medal struck in Monte Cassino, where St Benedict lived and died. I am sorry the original monastery was destroyed during the war. I would like to visit someday and feel the walls "talk" to me across centuries to St Benedict's time.

Are medals still struck there today? Is it true that medals struck elsewhere only receive blessings for the ordinary medal - even if they bear the Jubilee images? Can you lead me to a where I can get the medals I seek?

Gilbert

8:23 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Dear Gilbert,



Fr. D. Longenecker has a book adapting the teaching of St. Benedict for fathers of families.


The book is available, for instance at amazon.com.
http://www.amazon.com/Listen-My-Son-Benedict-Fathers/dp/0819218561

Any priest can use the official formula for blessing the Medal of St. Benedict. It is not necessary for a Benedictine priest to bless it.

The "Jubilee" medal is easily obtained. Try Liturgical Press online.

1:01 PM  
Blogger gilbs72 said...

Thank you Father for your reply to my query about the medal of St Benedict and most specially for recommending Fr. D. Longenecker's book--this is exactly what I have been looking for. I am following the daily readings and it has been very enlightening. I plan to get extra copies to share with friends.

11:30 AM  
Blogger gilbs72 said...

Hello again, Father Stephanos. I have yet to get my medal--for now I keep an image of the medal with me always, and the prayers have proven effective whenever I am in danger of "losing it". I say the prayer silently and temper just flies away. I have a question regarding the medal: In Dom Gueranger's book "The Medal or Cross of St Benedict" (p.12), he mentions the presence of the monogram "IHS" on the medal, which is the Holy Name of Jesus. It is not there now. The image on my copy (Google Books) is not clear, but it seemed to be located where the "PAX" has always been known to be. Dom Gueranger later enumerates the artifacts on the medal which Satan fears most: "...the cross, the Holy Name of Jesus, our Savior’s own words in his temptation, and lastly, the mention of the victories with which the great Patriarch St. Benedict gained over the infernal dragon." Father, have you encountered this fact, and is there a story behind this? Thank you.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

There have been many renditions of the medal of St. Benedict. What they all have in common is the cross with the prayers I have described. Those prayers and the blessing of the Church are the essence of the medal. Other items are added by artists from time to time, for example: the "IHS" (an abbreviation from the Greek for "Jesus"); the word "PAX."

5:02 PM  
OpenID cultwriter said...

Fr. Stephanos, I have a question in related to Gilbert's posting about authentic Jubilee medals.

There is an article written by Fr. Bernardine Patterson OSB in which he states that "the imprint or date Ex S.M. Cassino MDCCCLXXX is necessary. Unless present, it would not be an authentic Jubilee medal but only one of the hundreds of species of the Ordinary Medal of St. Benedict."

I searched Liturgical Press' online catalog and it seems like at least some of their alleged Jubilee medals don't have the Ex. S.M. Cassino MDCCCLXXX imprint. Are they not really Jubilee medals then, but ordinary ones?

I have a medal of St. Benedict myself. Mine simply has the imprint "M. Cassino" without the preceeding Ex S. nor the date, but it looks like a Jubilee medal in every other way. Is my medal a Jubilee medal or an ordinary one?

Its not such a big deal to me, the potential of the Benedictine medal-cross, of any sort, is without question. But its a question I've had in my mind for a few days.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

The Latin inscription Ex. S.M. Cassino MDCCCLXXX means refers to being from Monte Cassino and to the year 1880-- which would be the jubile of 1,400 years since the birth of St. Benedict.

There would be Jubilee Medals with the design most everyone is familiar with, and which bear the above inscription.

However, even without that inscription, the design of the Jubilee Medal is still the design of the Jubilee Medal.

I don't have the document decreeing the indulgences attached to Medal of St. Benedict, so I can't supply further details.

10:03 AM  
Blogger gilbs72 said...

Mine says "EX S SPECV" - someone told me "specus" means cave or grotto, and that it may be referring to Subiaco where Benedict spent time alone. I'd appreciate your opinion and perhaps alternate interpretation, Father.

One side-question Father: are hermits excused from hearing mass on Sundays? Or did St Benedict leave the cave to travel to town on Sundays?

6:24 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

In fact, in Italian, the cave at Subiaco where St. Benedict had first lived as hermit is called "Sacro Speco." It has been incorporated into the monastery of Subiaco.

In the time of St. Benedict (who died in A.D. 547), canon law really had not yet developed in any way that covered forms of religious life. Today, even hermits have the obligation to Sunday Mass.

As a hermit, St. Benedict had even lost track of Easter.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

The medals are available online at the following.
http://www.litpress.org/Subjects.aspx?ID=25

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...

Hello Fr. Stephanos. Sorry for reviving this thread but I found this one while searching about St. Benedict's medal.

I recently bought from our parish a cross with the medal of St. Benedict on the center to place on my kids' room for protection. I am planning to have a priest bless it on Sunday but I'm not sure if the priest will bless it using the prescribed format. Will an ordinary blessing be sufficient for its full efficacy?

Thank you very much!

8:12 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Dear Eric,

I have been away and without internet access until now (October 13). You can print out the official blessing included in this post, and ask any priest to use it. It includes first an exorcism and then the blessing specific to the medal of St. Benedict.

Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

Thank you very much for your reply Fr. Stephanos! I had a deacon bless it. I didn't bring the prescribed format so he just blessed it and sprinkled with holy water. Can it be blessed again by a priest?

Also, I know that you posted a link on where to buy medals but I would like to ask if your monastery sells the St. Benedict's medal. If so, can I buy from there and have it blessed by a Benedictine monk / priest before it gets shipped to me? By the way, I live in NJ so shipping via USPS is perfectly fine with me.

Sorry to ask so many questions. Praying for the best vacation and spiritual experience in the Holy Land with your mother.

8:00 PM  
Blogger gilbs72 said...

Hello Father, what is the difference between the above version of the blessing (in your post) and this version found in the Rituale Romanum (see item 31)? I noticed that the short one is more commonly found online. Does this supercede the longer version and is the latter now obsolete? Thanks.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Eric,

I've seen many reproductions of the Medal of St. Benedict, but the original "edition" of the indulgenced jubilee medal is available at:
http://www.litpress.org/Subjects.aspx?ID=25

If you wish, you can send me medals you have, and I can bless them, then send them back to you.

Fr. Stephanos Pedrano, O.S.B.
Prince of Peace Abbey
650 Benet Hill Road
Oceanside, CA 92058

8:39 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Either version of the blessing is legitimate.

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,

I have a completely different question
about the Medal of St. Benedict.

I got myself a few medals from the vatican blessed by Pope Benedict XVI

But some people are asking what if the medals are not blessed do they have the protection then.

so i did look on google some site's say they must be blessed to be powerful.

but on this site i read something else. http://olrl.org/sacramental/benedictmedal.shtml
under the text THE BLESSING OF THE MEDAL OF ST. BENEDICT i read there Dom Gueranger states that the Medal is powerful even without the special Benedictine blessing.

So the question is do the medals offer protection without blessing or not.

(sorry for my bad english coming from the netherlands)

4:10 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Your English coming from the Netherlands is not bad.

Dom Gueranger may have been expressing a devout opinion, based perhaps on the fact that the medal does have sacred images on it.

However, I would be cautious about holding that the medal is powerful all by itself, since that can suggest a superstitious belief.


It is best always to be mindful that spiritual power is something the Church receives from Christ. Therefore it is the prayer, the intercession, and the action of the Church that is powerful in invoking blessing upon things, such as medals.

Today, any priest can impart the official blessing for the medal of St. Benedict by using the approved formulas. The priest does not have to be a Benedictine.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for the answer

9:34 AM  
Blogger Lisa W said...

I have a weird question. I recently found 3 of these in my jewlery box. I am not Catholic, I mean when I was little they said we were Catholic but we never practiced so I became Methodist after I married. I digress.

anyway, I found these medals and looked them up... Do all medals have the SV. SM. CASINO and MDCCCXXX on them? I understand it to be something about 1880?

10:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa W said...

There is an L I forgot to put in before the three X's sorry.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

The "SV. SM. CASINO" is a reference to the monastery of Monte Cassino where St. Benedict died.

The MDCCCLXXX refers to the year 1880, which was the 1,400th anniversary ("jubilee") of the birth of St. Benedict. The particular version of the medal bearing the year 1800 was first issued in that year. It is called the "jubilee" medal.

Other designs of the medal bear the same symbolic prayers and the cross, even though they differ artistically.

1:54 PM  
Blogger ian alangdeo said...

father,,,i give the formula for the blessings,but the priest did not use it,,,im ian from philippines

8:42 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Dear Ian,


If you can, find another priest, and ask him to use the formula.

8:35 AM  
Blogger owen swain said...

Hello Father.

Interestingly, this Benedictine Monastery states the "back" of the medal is what you clearly say is the "front". Thoughts? (I tend to think you are correct).

5:47 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Hello, Owen.

On that website, as they begin to refer to the history of the origin of the medal, they uphold that it began with devotion to the cross, even with St. Benedict's devotion to the cross. In short: the cross first (in front) and St. Benedict after (in back). Historically or chronologically as well: the Cross first, and centuries later St. Benedict.

Also, the colored image of the medal is a copy of an old photo that I myself cleaned up and refined, and then posted on our own website. Now people all over the world are copying it.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

P.S. The photo I touched up is even at the head of this blogpost.

7:22 PM  
Blogger owen swain said...

Fr. Stephanos,
indeed, I thought just the same about both the explanation and your image (though I did not know it is yours I recognized it from this very post when I first saw it a few years ago).

Of course, one wants to ask how fellow Benedictines could get it so wrong but I resist.

I am happy your blog is still online even if active posting no longer happens. God bless you this Christmastide.

7:49 PM  
Blogger arees said...

dear fr. stephanos
I am a believer of st benidict
I have pray to him and ask for his help in crist name
my friend was very sick and I placed my scapular in holy water. then placed it on my friend and she was healed the fever Brock and felt much better and is doing well now she is eating and getting stronger
I truly believe in him for he has always helped me. when I have prayed and asked for his help

11:35 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

Click HERE to go back to the front page of this blog.