Tomorrow is the feast day of one of the most influential saints of the West, St. Benedict of Nursia. This blog is meant to not only honor St. Benedict, but also explain and honor the famous and powerful St. Benedict medal.
As a student at Belmont Abbey College I quickly learned about one of the great Catholic saints, St. Benedict. I learned about him during my First-Year Symposium Course as well as by talking with various Benedictine monks at the Abbey. One thing that always interested me about this great Catholic saint is his very peculiar saint medal.
Saint medals, especially St. Benedict medals, can be found all over Belmont Abbey. At first I only noticed students commonly wearing them as necklaces. Then I began to notice the St. Benedict medal crucifix in every classroom at the Abbey. Then I began to notice students using St. Benedict medal rosaries. The St. Benedict medal interests me not only because St. Benedict is such a well-known Catholic saint, but rather because of all the letters on the front and back of the St. Benedict Medal. I've always wondered what all those letters stand for, so I am going to share that meaning with all of you. Hopefully understanding what the St. Benedict medal says will encourage you to get one yourself, or to appreciate in a new way the one you are already using.
Front of the St. Benedict Medal
- On the front of the medal is an image of St. Benedict himself, and on both sides of him are the words, “Crux S. Patris Benedicti” (The Cross of the Holy Father Benedict).
- Below St. Benedict’s feet are the words, “Ex S M Casino MCCCCLXXX” (From the Holy Mount of Cassino, 1880). During that year Monte Casino (one of the more important monasteries St. Benedict founded and spent most of his life) was given the exclusive right to produce the medal
- Surrounding St. Benedict are the words, “Ejus in obitu nostro presentia muniamur” (May his presence protect us in the hour of death).
- On the Back of the St. Benedict medal is a Cross which bears an old Latin prayer. On the vertical beam is the beginning of the prayer: C.S.S.M.L., meaning “Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux” (May the Holy Cross be for me a light). And on the horizontal beam it states: N.D.S.M.D., meaning “Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux” (Let not the dragon be my guide).
- The four large letters surrounding the Cross are: C S P B, which stand for “Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti” (The Cross of the Holy Father Benedict).
- Encircling the Cross on the right side are the letters: V.R.S.N.S.M.V., meaning “Vade retro Satana; nunquam suade mihi vana (Begone Satan! Suggest not to me thy vain things).
- Encircling the Cross on the left side are the letters: S.M.Q.L.I.V.B., meaning “Sunt mala quae libas; ipse venena bibas (The drink you offer is evil; drink that poison yourself).
- Above the cross is the word PAX (Peace).