Sunday, 4 November 2012

Things on my blog 1 - Medal of St. Benedict

At the top of my blog, I have included an image of the reverse side of the Jubilee Medal of St. Benedict.  I realise that some readers may be unfamiliar with this image, and so thought I had better give an explanation.

The medal was originally struck in 1880 at the Abbey of Montecassino (the one that was later to be embattled during WW2) to mark the 1400th. anniversary of the birth of St. Benedict. It combined and consolidated various earlier medals and devotional items associated with the saint, going back as far as the Middle Ages.

The medal is both a reminder of the importance of the Cross as our means of redemption and guide for life, and an exorcism against the powers of evil, and therefore soemthing I feel very appropriate to include at the head of a Catholic blog. It has become an increasinly popular devotion in recent years, and is often incorporated into crosses and cucifixes, and can now be obtained on t-shirts, etc. I have recently also obtained a Rosary in which each bead is a miniature version of the medal, adding yet another focus for mediatation to this powerful devotion.

The obverse of the medal features a picture of St. Benedict, holding in his right hand the Cross, and in his left a copy of his monastic rule. He is flanked by two images representing legends associated with his life: on the right a poisoned cup, which was shatteed when Benedict made the sign of the cross ove it, and on the left a raven taking away poisoned bread which had been sent by one of the saint's enemies. Above these images appaer the words Crux S. Patris Benedicti (The Cross of our holy father Benedict), and around the border the words Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur (May we be strengthened at the hour of our death). Under Benedict's feet there is also an inscription ex SM Casino MDCCCLXXX, referring to the date and location where the medal was struck.


The reverse of the medal features a cross with various intials on and around it. On the cross itself, CSSSML + NDSMD (Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux + Nunquam Draco Sit Mihi Dux - May the Holy Cross be my light + May the dragon (i.e. devil) never be my guide). Around the border is an admonishment to Satan - VRS NSMV SMQL IVB (Vade retro Satana! Nunquam suade mihi vana!  Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas! - Get thee behind me, Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! The things you offer are evil. Drink your own poison!). At the top of the cross, appaers the word Pax (peace), and in the four quadrants, the letters CSPB (Crux Sancti patris Benedicti - the cross of our holy father, Benedict).

A lot of poweful imagery and something to meditate on - I commend the medal as a devotion.


  1. Surely "pax" is at the foot of the cross... IHS is at the top.

  2. Mac, glad you spotted the deliberate mistake. A quick scan of images shows that there are versions of the medal with 'pax' either above or below the cross. Obviously, I didn't pick an image that matched the text.

    Glad to have a pedant around to do my proof-reading. ;-)

    (Have left post as it is, otherwise no-one will have a clue about what these comments mean)


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