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Description of the Saint Medal

Followers of the Catholic faith for ages have depended on saint medals, crosses, stained glass, statues, st-benedict-cross-medal.jpgand other religious artifacts as instruments to remind them of their devotion to God, and to help solidify their spirituality. Saint Benedict was a shining influence of this practice, due to his deep faith in the Cross of Jesus Christ, which he used to work miracles with.  During, and after his life on earth, he influenced his Benedictine family to follow the same faith and devotion.

This devotion inspired the faithful to create saint medals bearing an image of Saint Benedict holding a cross in his right hand, and the Rule of Saint Benedict in his left.  Since the Holy Cross has always been closely associated with the saint medal, the Cross Saint Benedict holds in the image is well-known as the "Medal-Cross of Saint Benedict".

Image of Saint Benedict on the Saint Medal

Figure 1. (Saint Benedict Money Clip


The image of Saint Benedict appears on the saint medal (Figure 1.) holding the Holy Cross to represent how Saint Benedict used the Cross as a holy instrument during his life and ministry.  As described in the History of Saint Benedict, Benedict resisted tempation, and dispelled evil when he drew the sign of the Cross on a goblet of poison wine. Saint Benedict also counseled his monks, when tempted by evil, to make the sign of the Cross over their hearts.

Saint Benedict's disciples followed in his footsteps, and over the years demonstrated the same devotion. They also performed many miracles using the Cross.  It is told that Saint Maurus, whom Benedict took care of as a young boy, gave sight to a blind man using the power of the Cross. Saint Placidus used the Cross to cure many ill people, while Saint Odilo was able to miraculously remove a splinter from a man's eye.


Letters Inscribed on the Saint Medal

As described above, and seen in Figure 1., the two sides of the saint medal feature an image of the Cross on one side, and an image of Saint Benedict himself on the other.  You will also notice certain letters inscribed on each side of the medal, each being the initial of the Latin word it represents.  Ultimately, these inscriptions offer a faithful praise to followers to help protect themselves against evil and temptation.

The Front of the Saint Medal

On the front of the saint medal, you will notice Saint Benedict holding the Cross in one hand, and his Rule in the other.  Sitting on a pedestal to the right of Saint Benedict is the goblet of poison wine, which shattered after he blessed it with the sign of the Cross.  Standing on the pedestal to the left of Saint Benedict is a raven ready to carry away a loaf of poisoned bread that a jealous enemy sent to Benedict.

Featured above the goblet and raven are the Latin words "CRUX S. PATRIS BENEDICTI", which translates to: The Cross of Our Holy Father Benedict.

Inscribed around the outter rim of the saint medal are the words "EJUS IN OBITU NRO (NOSTRO) PRAESENTIA MUNIAMUR", which translates to: May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death!

Directly below the image of Saint Benedict reads "EX SM CASINO MDCCCLXXX", which translates to: From holy Monte Cassino, 1880.

The Back of the Saint Medal

Figure 2. (Saint Benedict Frame Enamel Ring)  

Just like on the front of the saint medal, there are a series of Latin initials on the side that features the image of the Cross (Figure 2.). You will notice 4 letters enclosed in circles, placed symmetrically around the corners of the Cross "C. S. P. B.", which signifies: CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTIS (The Cross of Our Holy Father Benedict).

On the vertical bar of the Cross you read the letters "C. S. S. M. L.", which stands for: CRUX SACRA SIT MIHI LUX (May the Holy Cross be my Light).

On the horizontal bar of the Cross you read the letters "N. D. S. M. D.", which stands for: NON DRACO SIT MIHI DUX (Let not the Dragon be my Guide). The sentences in each bar combines into a profession for Christians whom confide in the Cross, and repel the devil.

Directly above the Cross is the word "PAX" (Peace), which is a motto the Benedictines stood by for centures.  Circling the outer rim of the saint medal are the letters, "V. R. S. N. S. M. V. S. M. Q. L. I. V. B.", which stands for the following verses: VADE RETRO, SATANA; NUNQUAM SUADE MIHI VANA. SUNT MALA QUAE LIBAS; IPSE VENENA BIBAS! (Begone, Satan! Do not tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil; Drink your poison yourself!).

Saint Benedict repeated the first verse on the back of the saint medal when he was tempted while living in his cave.  Using these verses, and the sign of the Cross, he was able to defeat Satan.  He uttered the second verse as he blessed the goblet of poisoned wine his enemies left him, which in turn caused the goblet to shatter before him.

We also use these Latin prayers as protection from evil, and the tempations we encounter in our daily lives.  Jesus Christ used similiar words when He was tempted by evil in the desert following his baptism:

At this, Jesus said to him, "Get away, Satan! It is written:

'The Lord, your God, shall you worship

and him alone shall serve you.' "


Sources: Saint Benedict Prayer Book, 2008, Bart Tesoriero