St. Benedict's Medal
July 10, 1994
Brother John Raymond
On July 11 the Church celebrates the feast of St. Benedict of
Nursia. In the sixth century he founded the Order of St. Benedict, more
familiarly known as the Benedictine Monks. Around his teenage years
Benedict, born of a noble family, left Nursia with his nurse (more like
a housekeeper) for an education in Rome. But in those days Rome was very
different from the Rome of today. Upon arriving there Benedict was shocked
by the immoral surroundings and lives of his fellow classmates. So with
his nurse Benedict secretly fled the city to a village in the mountains
thirty miles away. Here Benedict felt God calling him to a more solitary
form of life. All alone he set out for a more solitary place. Upon arriving
at a wild and rocky place known as Subiaco Benedict met a monk named
Romanus. With the help of Romanus he spent the next three years as a hermit
living in a cave.
A practice then among those seeking Christian perfection was to
look for a holy spiritual guide to instruct them in the ways of holiness,
what we might today call a "spiritual father." As news spread about a holy
hermit living in a cave disciples flocked to Subiaco. Soon under Benedict's
guidance several small monasteries sprang up.
Eventually Benedict again set out for a solitary place. He found it
on top of Monte Cassino where he built two chapels. But soon disciples were
gathering around him again. This time Benedict put them all under the same
roof and the enormous and famous monastery on Monte Cassino began to take
shape. At one point he wrote a rule for his monks, which was to become
virtually the standard for all European monks centuries later.
Benedict performed many miracles during his life even raising the
dead to life. He seems to have known of his approaching death as he told
some of his monks to dig his grave. Six days later after receiving Holy
Communion, Benedict standing in the chapel before the Most Blessed
Sacrament, supported by some monks, with hands uplifted to heaven, uttered
a final prayer and died.
Although I would like to tell more about this great saint I want
to emphasize here the importance of the St. Benedict Medal. Among his many
miraculous works St. Benedict was known for a profound veneration of the
holy Cross. Through the Sign of the Cross he worked many miracles and
exercised power over demons. There is the famous story of someone poisoning
Benedict's wine. When Benedict made the Sign of the Cross over the glass
it broke harmlessly spilling out its deadly contents. In the early Middle
Ages a Medal was made depicting St. Benedict holding the Cross and his Rule
on one side and only a Cross on the other side. Around the image of St.
Benedict, because of his glorious death, are the words (here translated
from Latin): "May his presence protect us in the hour of death." Around
the Cross on the reverse side are the initials of Latin words. St. Benedict
is supposed to have uttered these very words. "Begone Satan! Suggest not
to me your vain things. The cup you offer me is evil; drink your own poison
." The letters on the Cross itself mean: "May the holy Cross be my light;
let not the dragon be my guide." The letters in the angles formed by the
Cross stand for: "Cross of the holy Father Benedict."
In these evil times it is good to carry around a St. Benedict's
Medal, put one above the doorway entrance to your home (we have one over
our chapel entrance), etc. [A medal can be obtained from almost any
Catholic Religious Store.] It is good to memorize St. Benedict's words to
pray in times of demonic temptation. Let us invoke this great saint on his
feastday, who fled the world to live only for God, to help us live in the
world but not be of the world.