How Saint Benedict defeated the devil with the Cross of Christ - How it inspired Saint Benedict and the Jubilee medal
The short answer is that the devil fears the Lord. When a person carries the Saint Benedict Medal or the Saint Benedict Crucifix, it is a constant reminder to that person to think of Christ always, in effect, a continuous exorcism. Even at the mere mention of the name of Jesus Christ, the devil shrinks away. Consider the faith and love of the Lord Saint Benedict called upon throughout his life. Let’s begin with a few examples of the miracles associated with Saint Benedict.
The first of the miracles recorded happened shortly after Benedict had left his schooling. His nurse, refusing to leave him, followed him to Enside, where he lived at the church of Saint Peter. His nurse, wishing to sift wheat, borrowed a sieve and broke it. Seeing her extreme distress, he took the pieces away and tearfully prayed over them. When he raised the sieve up, it appeared never as if to have been broken. God had bestowed His grace.
While serving as abbott to a monastery, a conspiracy formed against Benedict. Planning to rid themselves of the man of God, the monks poisoned his wine. When the wine was offered to Benedict, he made the sign of the cross and blessed the wine. Immediately, the glass burst. As recounted by Pope Gregory the Great in his biography of Benedict, “…the glass had in it the drink of death, which could not endure the sign of life.”
At another monastery, a priest became envious of Benedict’s virtues, even in his success in leading more people to a better life. He sent a poisoned loaf of bread to Benedict. Knowing the bread was poisoned, Benedict gave the entire loaf to a raven that would appear for crumbs each evening. He commanded the crow, in the name of Jesus Christ, to take the loaf and leave it in a place where no man could find it. After several attempts and entreaties from Benedict, and much difficulty, the raven flew off with the bread and returned without it hours later, looking for his usual allowance of crumbs.
Later in his life, Benedict was called upon by a group of men struggling mightily with the weight of a stone they needed to move for the monastery they were building. Nothing they had tried would get the stone to budge. The brothers believed the weight of the devil was upon it. Benedict prayed over the stone and blessed it. The brothers then carried the stone away as if it had no weight at all.
Of the miracles noted here, two are commemorated on the Saint Benedict medal. Spend a few minutes with us to learn about the Saint Benedict medal and the Cross of a Happy Death.
The life of Saint Benedict
The man behind the miracles.
Benedict was born in 480 AD, in the region of Norcia to a wealthy family. As a young man he left his schooling, having come to despise the immoral trends he saw in the manner in which current society enticed people to live. He became a hermit, living in a cave and surviving on the kindness and provision of a monk by the name of Romanus. Over time, people learned of him and sought to be fed by him spiritually in return for the bits of sustenance they would provide. Benedict, in his time as a hermit, had grown so spiritually strengthened as to resist temptation.
When the abbott of a nearby monastery died, the monks of the abbey, after much persuasion, convinced Benedict to become their abbott. As abbott, Benedict made them aware that they had fallen away from a true path of holiness. They were unwilling to reform, conspired to kill him, and that is how the miracle of the poisoned wine came about. After asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness upon them, he left their monastery, returning to the wilderness and his solitary life. Even so, he became well known for his increasing virtue, the miracles that occurred around him, and for the number of people who, through his example and teaching, were drawn to serve the Lord. As a result, he established 12 monasteries.
Yet another attempt was made to poison Benedict, and, yet again, he was spared by the miraculous removal of a loaf of bread meant to kill him. Driven away from the monastery, he settled in Monte Cassino. There, he founded the Benedictine Monestary that took root, becoming the seed and crown of the Church’s monastic system. It was at Monte Cassino that he wrote the Rule of Benedict. It is the guide for those who are committed to the monastic life. Having become the norm, it is still used today.
Benedict spent his life becoming ever more devoted to Christ and calling others to join him, despite the world in which he lived. We invite you to read about the Saint Benedict medal, as well as the Cross of a Happy Death that is a reminder of his life and the circumstances of his death in 543 AD.
The Saint Benedict Medal
History of the Medal
Saint Benedict had a deep faith in and devotion to the cross, which he passed on to succeeding generations of Benedictines. It was this devotion that inspired Christians to the striking of medals. In such medals, Saint Benedict was often depicted with a cross in one hand and the Rule of Benedict in the other. Over time, the large letters surrounding the cross on the reverse side were added. The medal we recognize today is known as the Jubilee medal and was struck in 1880 under the supervision of the monks of Montecassino to mark the 1400th anniversary of Saint Benedict’s birth. The Jubilee medal includes all of the features associated or included on previous medals.
At first glimpse, we immediately see that the Saint Benedict Medal is filled with images, letters and words. It is worth studying because every image your eye falls upon has meaning. Once explained, you will have a rich understanding of the medal, making it truly valuable, literally, a spiritual treasure.
Pedestals stand on either side of Benedict. The pedestal on his right holds a cup for wine and the other a raven about to take flight. Both represent thwarted attempts to kill Benedict. This is our reminder that Christ will always come to the aid of those who call on Him.
In the area above the cup and raven the Latin words “Crux s patris Benedicti” are inscribed. They translate to”The Cross of our holy father Benedict” (CSPB).
Inscribed around the margin of the medal we find the words, “Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur!” which translates to “May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death!” Saint Benedict is considered the patron saint of a happy death. Read below to see more information about his blessed death.
Below Benedict are the letters SM Casino MDCCLXXX, indicating the medal commemorates the 1400th anniversary of Benedict’s death.
The Reverse Of the Jubilee Saint Benedict Medal
The cross on the back of the medal carries the initial letters of a Latin prayer. “Crux sacra sti mihi lux! Nanquam draco sit mihi dux!” translates to “May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my guide!” This is a constant prayer of exorcism, protecting us from the evil of Satan. CSSMLNDSMD
In the spaces around the cross the letters CSPB stand for, “Crux Sancti Patris benedicti", meaning, “The cross of our holy father Benedict”.
Above the cross, the centuries-old Benedictine motto reads simply “Pax”, “Peace”.
The letters outlining the rim of the medal are the initial letters of a Latin prayer of exorcism: VRSNSMV - SMQLIVB, standing for “Vade retro Santana! Nanquam suade mihi vana! Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas!”mean, “Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! Evil are the things thous profferest, Drink thou thine own poison” With these emphatic words in constant presence, Satan cannot even approach.
The Cross of a Happy Death
How and when medal was added to a cross/Crucifix
The Saint Benedict Medal is often seen at the center of a Crucifix, behind the head of Christ. This is known as “The Cross of a Happy Death”. Saint Benedict is the patron saint of a happy death, notably because of the circumstances of his own death. Six days prior to his death, he requested that his grave (sepulchre) be opened. Very soon after that, he became ill and began to decline. On the sixth day, he asked to be carried to his oratory, where he received Holy Communion. Then, being supported by his brothers, he lifted his hands up to heaven and passed away. He left this world honoring the one who he most honored, certainly the circumstances of a most happy death.
Prayer and Blessing
A Saint Benedict medal is a sacramental. It may be blessed by any priest or deacon. Here is a suggest blessing.
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.
In the name of God the Father + almighty, who made heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in them, I exorcise these medals against the power and attacks of the evil one. May all who use these medals devoutly be blessed with health of soul and body. In the name of the Father + almighty, of the Son + Jesus Christ our Lord, and of the Holy + Spirit the Paraclete, and in the love of the same Lord Jesus Christ who will come on the last day to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire.
Let us pray. Almighty God, the boundless source of all good things, we humbly ask that, through the intercession of Saint Benedict, you pour out your blessings + upon these medals. May those who use them devoutly and earnestly strive to perform good works be blessed by you with health of soul and body, the grace of a holy life, and remission of the temporal punishment due to sin.
May they also with the help of your merciful love, resist the temptation of the evil one and strive to exercise true charity and justice toward all, so that one day they may appear sinless and holy in your sight. This we ask though Christ our Lord.
The medals are then sprinkled with holy water.
Take care to learn the prayers and exhortations inscribe on the medal…
May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my guide!
May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death!
Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities!
Here is a prayer by Saint Benedict for seekers of faith-
Gracious and Holy father, give is the wisdom to discover You, the intelligence to understand You, the diligence to seek after you, the patience to wait for You, eyes to behold You, a heart to meditate upon You, and a life to proclaim You, through the power of the Spirit of Jesus, our Lord. Amen
Dear Saint Benedict, I thank God for showering you with His grace to love Him above all else and to establish a monastic rule that has helped so many of His children live full and holy lives. Through the cross of Jesus Christ, I ask you to please intercede that God might protect me, my loved ones, my home, property, possessions, and workplace today and always by your holy blessing, that we may never be separated from Jesus, Mary, and the company of all the blessed. Through your intercession may we be delivered from temptation, spiritual oppression, physical ills, and disease. Protect us from drug and alcohol abuse, impurity and immorality, objectionable companions, and negative attitudes. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.