There is no specific way to wear or use the medal of St. Benedict, although it is advisable to carry it at all times. It can be worn on a chain around the neck, attached to a rosary, kept in a pocket or purse, placed in a car or at home. Some of the faithful also often place the medal on the foundations of their homes and buildings, on the walls of barns and sheds, or in their place of work. The purpose of wearing the medal is to invoke the blessing and protection of St. Benedict, wherever we are, and on our families and property. Wearing the medal devoutly and with Christian consistency, faithful to the practice of the commandments, is, so to speak, a perennial silent prayer of great value in the eyes of the Father who sees the unseen.
The Holy Church has arranged for the Medal of St. Benedict a special rite of blessing in which special attributes are conferred in order to help the faithful in their struggle against the power of darkness. The medal is an imprecation against Satan, an exorcistic prayer in times of temptation, diabolical infestation or vexation, a prayer that the Cross of Christ may be our light and guide, a prayer of firm execration and rejection of all that is evil, a prayer that we may, with Christian courage, "walk in the ways of God, with the Gospel as our guide," as St. Benedict exhorts in the prologue of his Rule.
A Little History
In the Life of St. Benedict Abbot (born in Nursia, Italy, in 480 and died in Montecasino on March 21, 547), written by his disciple Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-604), the exorcistic and miraculous power of the blessing of the great patriarch of the West and founder of the contemplative order of the Benedictines is recorded.
On a certain occasion, St. Gregory tells us, some rebellious and hateful monks offered St. Benedict a cup of poisoned wine. The latter, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, perceived that it was a plot to kill him and, with solemnity, traced on the cup the sign of the cross. As a result, the cup shattered into a thousand pieces and the perverse intention of those murderous monks was frustrated.
This special devotion to the holy cross of St. Benedict was transmitted to successive generations of Benedictine monks, giving rise to the creation of medals depicting St. Benedict with a cross in his right hand and the book of his rule for the monasteries in his left. Thus, the cross has always been closely associated with the Medal of St. Benedict, often referred to as the "Cross-Medal" of St. Benedict.
It is not known when the first medal of St. Benedict was struck. It is most likely that the medal has been enriched in its symbolism over the years and centuries. For example, at a certain point a series of capital letters were placed around the large figure of the cross on the reverse. In the meantime, knowledge of the meaning of these letters was gradually lost, until in 1647 a manuscript from 1415 was found in the abbey of Metten in Bavaria, which explained their meaning: they are the initial letters of a Latin prayer of exorcism against Satan.
Description of the Medal
On the face of the medal is the image of St. Benedict. In his right hand he holds the cross, the Christian symbol of salvation. The cross reminds us of the Saint's miracles worked by the sign of the Cross and the zealous work of Benedictines in the evangelization and civilization of Europe, especially from the 6th to the 10th century.
In the left hand of St. Benedict is his Rule for the Monasteries which could be summed up by the maxim "put nothing before the love of Christ".
Below, on the pedestal to the right of St. Benedict is the poisoned cup, broken when he made the sign of the cross. On the pedestal to the left is a raven about to carry off a loaf of poisoned bread sent to St. Benedict by an envious priest.
Above the cup and the raven are the Latin words: Crux S. Patris Benedicti (The Cross of our Holy Father Benedict).
On the inner edge of the medal, surrounding the figure of Benedict, are the Latin words: Eius in obitu nostra praesentia muniamur! (May we be strengthened by his presence at the hour of our death!). The Benedictines have always considered their holy Founder an effective patron for a holy death. He himself died in the chapel of Montecassino standing with his arms raised to heaven, supported by the brothers of the monastery, shortly after receiving Holy Communion.
On the reverse of the medal, the cross dominates. On the arms of the cross are the initial letters of a Latin prayer: Crux sacra sit mihi lux! Nunquam draco sit mihi dux! (May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my guide!).
Around the margin of the reverse of the medal, the letters VRSNSMV - SMQLIVB are the initials, as mentioned above, of a Latin prayer of exorcism against Satan: Vade retro Satana! Nunquam suade mihi vana! Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas! (Withdraw Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink your poison yourself)!