St Mary of the Annunciation Catholic Church

St Mary of the Annunciation Catholic Church, 97 Ashby Road, Loughborough, LE11 3AB. Tel: 01509 262123

Newsletter for Sunday 7 July 2024

The St Benedict Medal

This Thursday 11th July is the Feast of St Benedict (480-547), the great Founder of the Benedictine Order which is the largest religious order in the Church, and the Father of Western Monasticism, who personally founded twelve monasteries. During his life Benedict worked many miracles using the power of the Holy Cross, and he also became known for his power over the devil, with the Cross of Christ being an efficacious means to frighten him off.

There is a special St Benedict Medal which is once again becoming very popular. It is thought to have originated shortly after St Benedict’s death, but the medal, as we know it today, was made in 1880 to commemorate the fourteenth centenary of St Benedict’s birth at Monte Cassino. Many miracles are attributed to it, but it’s neither magic or a good luck charm. The medal in itself has no power (as Catholics we may not be superstitious), but as a sacramental, its effectiveness lies in the faith and devotion of the wearer and is a constant silent prayer of strength in times of temptation and a rejection of all evil. The medal should be blessed using a special formula which you may ask any priest to do.

On the front side of it there is an image of St Benedict holding a cross and the Rule of his order, also known as “The Rule of St Benedict.”. On either side of him are two pedestals: one with a cup of wine and the other with a raven about to take flight. The cup of wine recalls a famous incident. Following the death of an Abbot, Benedict was invited to take over the rule of this particular monastery. The monks, who were very lax and unholy, found Benedict much stricter than they had expected and refused to change their way of life, so they poisoned his wine. At the beginning of the meal St Benedict made the sign of the cross over the wine, and the cup holding it immediately shattered into pieces. When they witnessed this miracle they repented, Benedict forgave them and they reformed their lives. 

The second pedestal with the raven recalls another incident. Benedict was in the habit of feeding a raven by his window from his own portion of bread at mealtimes. Once again an enemy had poisoned the bread. Knowing what had happened, Benedict charged the raven with disposing of the bread so that no one would be contaminated by it. The raven obeyed and flew off with the poisoned bread. We see from these two incidents that God always protected Benedict against evil people who were trying to kill him. Similarly the medal has proven itself very effective in frightening off Satan and his minions. St Benedict performed many exorcisms during his life.

Around the outside of the medal is inscribed in Latin, “May we be strengthened by his presence at the hour of our death.” St Benedict is regarded as a patron of a happy death, because six days before he died he asked for the grave prepared for him to be opened. On the sixth day he asked to be carried to the chapel where he received Holy Communion, lifted up his hands to Heaven and passed away. For this reason his intercession is invoked for a happy death. 

On the reverse side of the medal, there is a cross with the initials of a Latin prayer: “May the Holy Cross be my light! May the dragon never be my guide!” This is a prayer to be protected from the snares of Satan through the intercession of St Benedict. The letters around the outside of the medal are the initial letters of another traditional Latin exorcism: “Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities. Evil are things you offer. Drink your own poison.” 

This medal may be worn around the neck or attached to your Rosary or carried in your pocket. The St Benedict medal is on sale at the Repository. 
Fr Paul Gillham, IC