The St. Benedict Medal is a well-known and beloved Catholic sacramental. I've always been drawn to the striking simplicity of the medal...but it was just recently that I came to learn what the letters on the design signify as well as the history behind the medal. This newfound knowledge has only increased my appreciation for the symbol and the powerful role that it can play in my life...and yours, too!
If you are curious about the history and meaning of the St. Benedict Medal, as well as how it can be used in your life to protect from demonic harassment, read on!
Who was St. Benedict?
Before we can get into the details of the St. Benedict Medal, we need to know a little bit about the man behind the medal: St. Benedict of Nursia.
St. Benedict was born in Italy during the late 5th century and pursued a life of sanctity from an early age, first studying in Rome and then living in a cave under the spiritual direction of a hermit. By his early thirties he began founding monasteries throughout the region, and in the year 530, he wrote the “Rule of St. Benedict.” This book of precepts for monks living communally went on to become the norm for all of Western Monasticism and continues to be used today by Benedictines today.
St. Benedict was a deeply spiritual man, a leader, a reformer, a theologian, and a writer.
He is also known to have warded off evil with his words.
How did St. Benedict come to be known as gifted in vanquishing evil?
There’s a story about St. Benedict that takes place during his early years of monastic leadership. After living in solitude under the guidance of the hermit, word of his holiness began to spread and several monks living nearby asked him to serve as their abbott. St. Benedict resisted their pleas, knowing that he would be too strict for their liking, but they persisted. It turned out that St. Benedict was right, and when the young monks became disillusioned by his counsel, they tried to poison him. The legend tells us that St. Benedict suspected their evil intent, and when they handed him a goblet filled with poisoned wine, he blessed it and the goblet shattered.
What is the meaning behind the St. Benedict medal?
The St. Benedict medal, much like St. Benedict’s words over the poisoned goblet, is intended to ward off evil.
On the front of the traditional medal is an image of St. Benedict holding his Rule in one hand and the shattered poisoned cup in the other. On the back of the medal is an image that has become iconic in and of itself: a cross surrounded by letters representing, amongst other things, an exorcism prayer.
On the arms of the cross are the letters C S S M L N D S M D, standing for the Latin words Crux sacra sit mihi lux! Nunquam draco sit mihi dux! These translate as: May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my guide! On the outside edge of the medal are the letters V R S N S M V – S M Q L I V B, standing for Vade retro Satana! Nunquam suade mihi vana! Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas! This is a Latin exorcism prayer translated as Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!
Above the cross is the Latin word for peace, and in the angles of the cross are the letters standing for the cross of our holy father Benedict.
What is the history of the medal itself?
The history of St. Benedict’s medal is less known than the history of St. Benedict the man. No one knows when the first St. Benedict medal was cast, and indeed, different versions of the medal – in terms of symbol and design – have existed over time. The medal as we know it today is called the St. Benedict Jubilee medal. It was cast for the first time in the late 19th century to mark the 1400th anniversary of St. Benedict, and since that time, the medal’s design has gone unchanged.
How can the St. Benedict Medal be used?
The St. Benedict medal is perhaps best known for its power in casting away evil. I mean, the letters on the medal’s face literally signify: “Begone, Satan!”
You may be wondering how the medal can be of use to you, though. Chances are that, unlike St. Benedict, no one is trying to poison you, and you may think, “there’s no dragon trying to guide me into fire.”
While it’s true that poison and dragons aren’t a part of everyday reality for the majority of us, evil most certainly is. When you think of Satan, an image of a little red devil carrying a pitchfork may come to mind, but in actuality, evil manifests itself in our lives not as a mythological creature but in any force that tries to destroy life and sever connection between us and the God who lovingly created humanity. In the words of St. Pope John Paul II, evil is “whatever violates the integrity of the human person.” This includes homicide, genocide, slavery and other acts of obvious and shocking cruelty, of course. But it also includes pride, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, sloth, and wrath…sins for which there is the potential in all of us. In other words, evil exists not only out there in the world, but also as seeds within our own hearts.
With this in mind, we can use the St. Benedict medal today to protect us from exterior evil, but also to protect us from the temptation to engage in evil ourselves.
Let’s get specific. How do I use the St. Benedict Medal?
So, the St. Benedict medal protects us from evil and temptation. Wonderful! But what does that look like in an average Catholic’s life? Let me give you a few examples from my own experience.
A St. Benedict Medal on my phone protects me from all the evil that can arise out of my usage of the helpful and necessary, yet also sometimes terribly detrimental, device. For instance, scrolling social media can lead to envy…of others’ houses, vacations, career successes, looks, social circles, and more. I need St. Benedict’s intercession regarding my phone habits on a daily basis!
Considering that I rarely leave my house without either my water bottle or my travel mug, I’ve placed medals on both these drinking vessels to protect me from whatever evil I may encounter outside the confines of my home.
I keep a St. Benedict medal on my bathroom mirror, and as I get myself ready for the day in the morning and look at it – and myself – I repeat the exorcism prayer. This serves to start my day off on the right foot in the broad sense of refuting evil, but also in the particular sense of reminding me of who I am as I peer into my face: I am a child of God, loved and good, but also capable of sin and in need of protection.
A St. Benedict medal stuck on the inside pocket of my wallet, right next to my credit card and bank card, protects me from the sin of greed. It reminds me to avoid the temptation of using my purchasing power to only gratify myself and to instead be generous when giving to the church and other life-giving organizations.
As much as I want to be protected from evil and temptation, so do I also desire for my children to be kept out of Satan’s way. I’ve placed St. Benedict medals inside the bags that they most frequently take outside the house (i.e. lunch boxes for summer picnics, backpacks for family road trips) and I’ve also given each of my daughters a sheet of their own St. Benedict medals to place wherever they like. (Bonus: this was an excellent opportunity for at home faith formation as I explained to them the purpose of the medal at an age appropriate level).
What are some practical tips for using the St. Benedict medal?
Choose which medal option best fits your needs. The St. Benedict medal exists in various forms, from jewelry to stickers to home decor to magnets. As you may have noticed from the examples that I listed above, I’m drawn to using the sticker form of the medal, mainly for its versatility. You can place a sticker anywhere! That said, figure out what will work best for you and your needs. If you seek protection in the car, a car magnet may be your best option. If you want to place medals on numerous items, including smaller items such as your phone or key chain, these mini medals will work well. But if you want a bigger sticker for, say, a laptop or journal, this classic vinyl sticker is my go-to.
Have your sticker blessed by a Benedictine Monk or a Catholic priest before use. A Catholic priest should bless the medal. Once the medal is blessed, you can use it as a means of protection.
Say the prayers depicted on the medal aloud each time you come into contact with your medal. You don’t need to recite the prayers of the medal in order for it to act as a protective force within your life, but remember: our prayers are powerful. Each time we bring voice to our plea for the cross to be our light, God hears us and responds.
The St. Benedict medal has a special place in my heart; if you, too, yearn for protection from evil as well as an additional daily reminder of God’s faithfulness and power, consider turning to the powerful intercessor St. Benedict and introducing the medal bearing his name into your life. St. Benedict, pray for us!
St. Benedict Medal Vinyl Sticker
This special St. Benedict Medal Vinyl Sticker packs a powerful punch in protective prayer. Demons hate the Benedictine Medal! Exorcists suggest putting a Benedictine Medal sticker on your electronic devices to protect from "demonic harassment." Adhere to phones, laptops, water bottles,… Read More
Mini Colorful St. Benedict Medal Sticker Sheet
Demons do not like the St. Benedict Medal! Exorcists have suggested putting a Benedictine Medal sticker on your phone or laptop to protect from "demonic harassment." (If you’re intending to use the sticker as a means of protection, have it blessed by a Benedictine… Read More
Mini St. Benedict Medal Sticker Sheet
The St. Benedict Medal is powerful! Exorcists suggest putting a Benedictine Medal sticker on your electronic devices to protect from "demonic harassment." These are lasting, durable stickers that are made of weatherproof, dishwasher safe vinyl for your phone, laptop, bike,… Read More
Clear St. Benedict Medal Vinyl Sticker
This special clear St. Benedict Medal Vinyl Sticker packs a powerful punch in protective prayer. Demons hate the Benedictine Medal! Exorcists suggest putting a Benedictine Medal sticker on your electronic devices to protect from "demonic harassment." Adhere to phones, laptops,… Read More