1. The Story of St. Benedict From Fisheaters:
St. Benedict of Nursia, Italy (A.D. 480-543), the twin brother of St. Scholastica, is the Father of Western monasticism, and his “Rule of St. Benedict” came to be the foundation of the organization for many religious orders (his own Order has its cradle at Monte Cassino, Italy, about 80 miles South of Rome).
At any rate, in order to comprehend the symbolism of the Medal, you must know of this event in St. Benedict’s life: he’d been living as a hermit in a cave for three years, famous for his holiness, when a religious community came to him after the death of their abbot and asked Benedict to take over. Some of the “monks” didn’t like this plan and tried to kill him with poisoned bread and wine. Just as St. John the Divine was miraculously saved from being poisoned, when St. Benedict made the sign of the Cross over these things, he came to know they were poisoned, so he toppled the cup and instructed a raven to carry off the bread.
2. The History of the Jubilee Medal The Catholic encyclopedia recounts:
The medal just described is the so-called jubilee medal, which was struck first in 1880, to commemorate the fourteenth centenary of St. Benedict’s birth. The Archabbey of Monte Cassino has the exclusive right to strike this medal. The ordinary medal of St. Benedict always differs from the preceding in the omission of the words “Ejus in obitu etc.”, and in a few minor informations. (For the indulgences connected with it see Beringer, “Die Ablässe”, Paderborn, 1906, p. 404-6.)
The habitual wearer of the jubilee medal can obtain all the indulgences connected with the ordinary medal and, in addition:
– All the indulgences that could be gained by visiting the basilica, crypt, and tower of St. Benedict at Monte Cassino (Pius IX, 31 December, 1877)
3. The Ancient Origins of the Medal The Catholic Encyclopedia recounts:
It is doubtful when the Medal of St. Benedict originated. During a trial for witchcraft at Natternberg near the Abbey of Metten in Bavaria in the year 1647, the accused women testified that they had no power over Metten, which was under the protection of the cross. Upon looking into it, a number of painted crosses, surrounded by the letters which are now found on Benedictine medals, were discovered on the walls of the abbey, but their meaning had been forgotten.
Lastly, in an old manuscript, written in 1415, was found a picture showing St. Benedict holding in one hand a staff which ends in a cross, and a scroll in the other. On the staff and scroll were written in full the words of which the mysterious letters were the initials. Medals bearing the image of St. Benedict, a cross, and these letters began now to be struck in Germany and soon spread over Europe. They were first approved by Benedict XIV in his briefs of 23 December 1741, and 12 March 1742.
4. The Medal Wards Against:
– To destroy witchcraft and all other diabolical and haunting influences.
– To impart protection to persons tempted, deluded, or tormented by evil spirits.
– To obtain the conversion of sinners into the Catholic Church, particularly when they are in danger of death.
– To serve as a shield against temptation.
– To destroy the effects of poison.
– To secure a timely and healthy birth for children.
– To afford protection against storms and lightning.
– To serve as an efficacious remedy for bodily afflictions and a means of protection against contagious diseases.
5. How to use the medal
We can use a medal in the following ways:
– On a chain around the neck
– Attached to one’s rosary
– Kept in one’s pocket or purse
– Placed in one’s car or home
– Placed in the foundation of a building
– Placed in the center of a cross.
The use of any religious article is intended as a means of reminding us of God and of inspiring a willingness and hunger to serve God and neighbor. It is not regarded as a good luck charm or magical device.