“Priests have the power to bless and the power to curse.
The second power is sorely underused.”
The Saint Benedict Medal
For serious devil problems, please consult an expert. Try to find an old, holy, humble, penitential, well-educated priest. When you have found him, please call the Vatican. For low-grade demonic problems, here is a traditional manner of telling the devil to go to hell…
CSSML, NDSMD! VRS, NSMV, SMQL, IVB!
Keep reading if that happens not to be clear enough.
For the early Christians, the cross was a favorite symbol and badge of their faith in Christ. From the writings of St. Gregory the Great (540-604), 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.
Devotion to the Cross of Christ also gave rise to the striking of medals that bore the image of St. Benedict holding a cross aloft in his right hand and his Rule for Monasteries in the other hand….
In the course of time, other additions were made, such as the Latin petition on the margin of the medal, asking that by St. Benedict’s presence we may be strengthened in the hour of death….
We do not know just 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. For a long time the meaning of these letters was unknown, but in 1647 a manuscript dating back to 1415 was found at the Abbey of Metten in Bavaria, giving an explanation of the letters. They are the initial letters of a Latin prayer of exorcism against Satan, as will be explained below.
The above features were finally incorporated in a newly designed medal struck in 1880 under the supervision of the monks of Montecassino, Italy, to mark the 1400th anniversary of the birth of St. Benedict. The design of this medal was produced at St. Martin’s Archabbey, Beuron, Germany, at the request of the prior of Montecassino, Very Rev. Boniface Krug OSB (1838-1909). Prior Boniface was a native of Baltimore and originally a monk of St. Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, until he was chosen to become prior and latter archabbot of Montecassino.
Since that time, the Jubilee Medal of 1880 has proven to be more popular throughout the Christian world than any other medal ever struck to honor St. Benedict.
The medal of St. Benedict is a very powerful sacramental with exorcizing properties; the exorcism is written right on it.
First a little history: St. Benedict of Nursia, Italy (A.D. 480-543), the twin brother of St. Scholastica, is considered to be the Father of Western monasticism, and his “Rule of St. Benedict” came to be the basis of organization for many religious orders His own Order has its cradle at Monte Cassino, Italy, about 80 miles South of Rome.
At any rate, in order to understand the symbology of the Medal, you must know of this event in St. Benedict’s life: he’d been living as a hermit in a cave for three years, famous for his holiness, when a religious community came to him after the death of their abbot and asked Benedict to take over. Some of the “monks” didn’t like this plan and attempted to kill him with poisoned bread and wine. Just as St. John the Divine was miraculously saved from being poisoned, when St. Benedict made the sign of the Cross over these things, he came to know they were poisoned, so he toppled the cup and commanded a raven to carry off the bread.
During a trial for witchcraft at Natternberg near the Abbey of Metten in Bavaria in the year 1647, the accused women testified that they had no power over Metten, which was under the protection of the cross. Upon investigation, a number of painted crosses, surrounded by the letters which are now found on Benedictine medals, were found on the walls of the abbey, but their meaning had been forgotten. Finally, in an old manuscript, written in 1415, was found a picture representing St. Benedict holding in one hand a staff which ends in a cross, and a scroll in the other. On the staff and scroll were written in full the words of which the mysterious letters were the initials. Medals bearing the image of St. Benedict, a cross, and these letters began now to be struck in Germany, and soon spread over Europe. They were first approved by Benedict XIV in his briefs of 23 December, 1741, and 12 March, 1742.
The Front of the Medal
We see St. Benedict holding his Rule; next to him, on a pedestal, is the cup that once held poison, shattered after he made the Sign of the Cross over it. The other pedestal is topped by the raven, who is about to carry away the poisoned bread. In very small print above these pedestals are the words: Crux s. patris Benedicti (The Cross of our Holy Father Benedict).
Underneath St. Benedict are the words: ex SM Casino MDCCCLXXX (from holy Monte Cassino, 1880).
Surrounding the entire face of the medal are the words: Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur (May we at our death be fortified by his presence.) Benedictines have always regarded St. Benedict as a special patron of a happy death. He himself died in the chapel at Montecassino while standing with his arms raised up to heaven, supported by the brothers of the monastery, shortly after St. Benedict had received Holy Communion.
Back of the Medal
In the arms of the Cross are the initials C S S M L – N D S M D, which stand for:
Crux sacra sit mihi lux!
Nunquam draco sit mihi dux!
The Holy Cross be my light;
Let not the dragon be my guide.
In the corners of the Cross are C S P D, which stand for the same words found on the front over the pedestals: Crux s. patris Benedicti (The Cross of Holy Father Benedict).
Above the Cross is the word “Pax” (Peace), the Benedictine motto.
Surrounding the entire back of the medal are the initials to the words of the exorcism:
V R S – N S M V – S M Q L – I V B, which stand for the rhyme:
Vade retro Satana!
Nunquam suade mihi vana!
Sunt mala quae libas.
Ipse venena bibas!
Get behind me Satan!
Do not tempt me with vanities!
The things you offer are evil.
Drink your own poison!
Wearing the Medal
There is no special way prescribed for carrying or wearing the Medal of St. Benedict. It can be worn on a chain around the neck, attached to one’s rosary, kept in one’s pocket or purse, or placed in one’s car or home. The medal is often put into the foundations of houses and building, on the walls of barns and sheds, or in one’s place of business.
The purpose of using the medal in any of the above ways is to call down God’s blessing and protection upon us, wherever we are, and upon our homes and possessions, especially through the intercession of St. Benedict. By the conscious and devout use of the medal, it becomes, as it were, a constant silent prayer and reminder to us of our dignity as followers of Christ.
The medal is a prayer of exorcism against Satan, a prayer for strength in time of temptation, a prayer for peace among ourselves and among the nations of the world, a prayer that the Cross of Christ be our light and guide, a prayer of firm rejection of all that is evil, a prayer of petition that we may with Christian courage “walk in God’s ways, with the Gospel as our guide,” as St. Benedict urges us.
A profitable spiritual experience can be ours if we but take the time to study the array of inscriptions and representations found on the two sides of the medal. The lessons found there can be pondered over and over to bring true peace of mind and heart into our lives as we struggle to overcome the weaknesses of our human nature and realize that our human condition is not perfect, but that with the help of God and the intercession of the saints our condition can become better.
The Medal of St. Benedict can serve as a constant reminder of the need for us to take up our cross daily and “follow the true King, Christ our Lord,” and thus learn “to share in his heavenly kingdom,” as St. Benedict urges us in the Prolog of his Rule.
When used in specific circumstances for a specific effect, such as when placed against a sick part of the body for healing, it would be traditional to pray six times the Glory be, Hail Mary and Our Father.
The one rule about the St. Benedict Medal (whether it is on a Crucifix or not) is that it be properly blessed.
Blessing of the Medal of St. Benedict
Medals of Saint Benedict are sacramentals that may be blessed legitimately by any priest or deacon — not necessarily a Benedictine (Instr., 26 Sept. 1964; Can. 1168). 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 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 though Christ our Lord.
The medals are then sprinkled with holy water.
Nihil obstat and Imprimatur, Saint Cloud, 24 April 1980.
The Blessing of St. Maurus
There is also a formal, priestly blessing offered to the sick, the Blessing of St. Maurus, that requires either a relic of the True Cross or the St. Benedict Medal. St. Maurus was a disciple of St. Benedict and was his defender against those who persecuted him. Pope St. Gregory the Great described him as a model of religious virtue, especially obedience.
By a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites (6 March 1959), the Blessing of St. Maur over the sick is permitted to be given with a Medal of St. Benedict instead of with a relic of the True Cross, since the latter is difficult to obtain.
Before the blessing is imparted, the relic of the true Cross of our Lord or the medal of St. Benedict is exposed, at least two candles having been lit. Acts of contrition and firm confidence should then be excited in the sick person, so that through the merits and intercession of St. Benedict and St. Maurus, if it should please God, health may be obtained. The Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be are recited three times in honor of the Blessed Trinity. Then a priest of the Order of St. Benedict, or any priest delegated, having put on a red stole, and with his right hand holding up the relic of the Sacred Cross or the medal of St. Benedict before the sick person, says the following prayers:
V. Benediction and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, honor and power and strength to our God forever and ever.
V. My foot has stood in the direct way.
R. In the churches I will bless You, O Lord.
Through the invocation of the most holy name of the Lord may that faith, in which St. Maurus, by employing the words that follow, healed the sick, and in which I, though an unworthy sinner, utter the selfsame words, restore your health as you desire:
In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity and supported by the merits of the most holy Father Benedict, I bid you, N., to rise, stand upon your feet and be cured, in the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.
Antiphon: Surely He has borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: by His bruises we are healed.
V. He that forgives the iniquities of his creatures.
R. May He heal your infirmities.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come to You.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.
V. Let us pray O God, the Creator, of all things, You ordained that Your only Son should take flesh of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit for the restoration of your people and You deigned to heal the wounds and infirmities of our souls by the redemption accomplished upon the sacred and glorious wood of the life-giving Cross: do You also vouchsafe through this powerful sign to restore health to Your servant N. Through the same Christ our Lord.
V. Let us pray Lord Jesus Christ, You conferred upon the master, blessed Benedict, the privilege of obtaining from You whatsoever he might ask in Your name: vouchsafe, through his intercession, to heal all the infirmities of this Your servant: in order that, being restored to health, he (she) may give thanks to Your holy name.
You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
V. Through the invocation of the Immaculate Mother of God and ever Virgin Mary, and the intercession of Saints Benedict and Maurus, may the Power + of God the Father, the Wisdom + of God the Son, and the Strength + of the Holy Spirit free you from your infirmities. Amen.
May God’s holy will be done, and may it be done to you as you wish and pray, for the praise and honor of the most holy Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The priest then blesses the sick person with the relic of the Cross or the medal of St. Benedict saying:
V. May the blessing of Almighty God, of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit descend upon you and abide with you forever.
The sick person then kisses the relic or the medal of St. Benedict.
This blessing, if need be, may be repeated three times; also three votive Masses might be celebrated, namely in honor of the Passion, of St. Maurus, Abbot, and for the Poor Souls; otherwise the fifteen decades of the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary could be prayed according to the aforesaid intentions by the sick person, or by others in the person’s name.
Bibliography and Web Resources
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ABBAYE SAINT BENOÎT de PORT-VALOIS, CH. La médaille de S. Benoît, © 1999.
ALTENÄHR OSB, Abt Albert.
Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti: Die Benedikt-Medaille, Facetten der Benedikt-Verehrung und benediktinischer Frömmigkeit (Abtei Kornelimünster: Spirituelles, 4/89 – 7/01).
BOUVILLIERS, Adélard OSB.
The Medal-Cross of St. Benedict, second ed., rev. and enlarged. Belmont Abbey Press, 1932.
CORBIERRE, A. J.
Numismatique Benedictine: histoire scientifique et liturgique des croix et des medailles de Saint Benoit, patriarche des moines d’occident d’apres des documents inedits …. 2 v. Rome, 1901.
ELIZALDE, Mons. Martín de, OSB.
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GUERANGER, Prosper OSB.
Essai sur l’origine, la signification et les privileges de la medaille ou croix de S. Benoit. Poitiers, 1862; 11th ed., Paris, 1890.
The Medal or Cross of St. Benedict: Its Origins, Meaning and Privileges. Trans. from the French; ed. with an introduction and appendix on the Centenary Medal, etc., by an EBC monk of Douai, France. London: Burns & Oates, 1880. PDF version.
Das St. Benedikts-Kreuz, 1866.
Die St. Benediktsmedaille, ihre Geschichte, Bedeutung, Ablasse u. wunderbare Wirkungen. 2. Aufl. Ravensburg: Kitz, 1895.
LA MEDAILLE-CRUCIFIX DE SAINT BENOîT de La Mission saint Benoît.
MOSTEIRO de SÃO BENITO do RIO de JANEIRO.
Medalha e Oração de São Bento, 1996.
OTT, Michael OSB.
“Medal of Saint Benedict,” Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913.
PATTERSON, Bernardine OSB.
“The Medal of St. Benedict,” The Scriptorium IX (1949) 101-.
VETH, Martin OSB.
The Medal or Cross of St. Benedict. Atchison: Abbey Student Press, St. Benedict’s College, 1906.
Origen y efectos admirables de la cruz o medalla de San Benito abad, por Don Zelly-Jacobuzj del Monte Casino, abad de S. Pablo en la Via de Ostia. Traducida de la 6a edicion francesa por M.M. de Legarreta. La edicion mexicana. Mexico, Imprenta Guadalupana de Reyes Velasco, 1895.