In Scripture, St. Peter tells us to be sober and watchful because, “your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The devil is real, and he wants to destroy you and me through any means possible. That’s why it’s so important that we fight back with the spiritual weapons of prayer and faith.
One of the powerful weapons in spiritual combat is the St. Benedict medal. Honored and employed for centuries, this medal has been associated with many miracles, as well as with powers of exorcism.
The exact origins of the St. Benedict medal are uncertain, although it is said that the first medal was worn by the 11th century Pope, Leo IX, who attributed his miraculous recovery from a snake bite to it. St. Benedict medals of various types have been in use ever since, but the medal in its current form, known as the Jubilee medal, was not struck until 1880, when it was created to honor the 1,400th anniversary of St. Benedict’s birth.
The St. Benedict medal is rich in meaning. The front contains an image of St. Benedict holding a cross and his famous monastic rule. On his left and right are words meaning, “The cross of our holy father, St. Benedict.” The outer edge contains the words in Latin, “May we at our death be fortified by his presence.”
The back of the medal is even more interesting. It contains a series of initials that stand for a Latin exorcism prayer, as well as a prayer for guidance.
Emblazoned on the prominently placed cross are the letters C S S M L – N D S M D, which stand for the Latin prayer:
Crux sacra sit mihi lux!
Nunquam draco sit mihi dux!
Translated, it means:
The Holy Cross be my light;
Let not the dragon be my guide.
Surrounding the outer rim of the back are the letters V R S N S M V – S M Q L I V B. These letters stand for an exorcism prayer based on an incident from St. Benedict’s life.
After St. Benedict had been a hermit for three years, and his reputation for holiness had spread far and wide, he was asked by a group of monks to be their abbot. St. Benedict agreed, but some rebellious monks in the community really disliked this idea, and they decided to kill St. Benedict by poisoning his bread and wine. As St. Benedict made the sign of the cross over his food, as was his custom, he immediately knew that they had been poisoned. He threw the wine on the ground, saying:
Vade retro Satana!
Nunquam suade mihi vana!
Sunt mala quae libas.
Ipse venena bibas!
Do not suggest to me thy vanities!
Evil are the things thou offerest,
Drink thou thy own poison!
It is this prayer that is represented by the initials surrounding the back of the medal.
St. Benedict medals are used in many ways, but always as a protection against evil. Some people bury them in the foundations of new buildings to keep them free from evil influences, while others attach them to rosaries or hang them on the wall in their homes. But the most common way to use the St. Benedict medal is to wear it. The medal can be worn by itself or embedded in a crucifix, like the one pictured.
Regardless of how it is used, the medal should always be blessed using the prayer found here. While, in former times, only Benedictines could bless the medal, now any priest can.
If you don’t have a St. Benedict medal, you can get them anywhere Catholic goods are sold. I personally like this one, as it is affordable and rugged. Also, the awesome combat rosaries, created by Fr. Richard Heilman to be the ultimate spiritual weapons, come with a St. Benedict medal attached (these rosaries should be in every man’s arsenal).
If you don’t own a St. Benedict medal, I highly recommend you get one. It’s basic protection, like the bullet proof vest of sacramentals!