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Feast of St. Benedict – July 11

Painting of St. Benedict holding a staff

St. Benedict of Nursia, Italy (480-543), the twin brother of St. Scholastica, is the Father of Western Monasticism. His Rule came to be the basis of organization for many religious orders, including the Franciscans and Dominicans.

As St. Benedict is invoked against evil, his medals are considered particularly efficacious against it. This devil-chasing medal itself has an important prayer used in the Rite of Exorcism, in abbreviated form, on one side and an image of St. Benedict on the other.

An illustration and description of the St. Benedict medal

The story of the medal is unsettling, but several miracles are associated with St. Benedict.

After Benedict had left his schooling, his nurse accompanied him to Enside where he lived at the church of Saint Peter. Benedict’s nurse borrowed a sieve to sift wheat and broke it. Seeing her distress, Benedict prayed over the pieces. When he raised the sieve up, it appeared miraculously unbroken.

While serving as Abbott to a monastery, Benedict’s piety and zeal resulted in a plot to kill him with poisoned wine. When the wine was offered to Benedict, he made the sign of the cross and blessed the wine. Immediately, the glass burst.

At another monastery, a priest became so envious of Benedict’s virtues that he sent a poisoned loaf of bread to him. Knowing the bread was poisoned, Benedict gave the entire loaf to a raven that would appear for crumbs each evening. He commanded the bird, 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 crumbs.

Later in his life, Benedict was called upon by a group of men struggling with the weight of a stone for the monastery they were building. The brothers believed the weight of the devil was upon stone. Benedict prayed over the stone and blessed it. The brothers then carried the stone away as if it had no weight at all.

Painting of St. Benedict casting out a demon

Originally, the medal was in the form of a cross and Catholic tradition teaches that Bruno of Egisheim-Dagsburg, the future Pope Leo IX, when he was a young Benedictine, nearly died of a snake bite. He attributed his eventual recovery to that Benedictine cross. He was emaciated and even lost the ability to speak and most people gave up on him. It was then when Bruno received a vision of a luminous ladder that reached to Heaven. Upon the ladder, he saw St. Benedict holding a radiant cross with which he touched Bruno instantly curing him. The apparition promptly disappeared.

When he became pope in A.D. 1049, Leo IX redesigned it as a medal to which he attributed blessings and indulgences. St. Vincent de Paul had a strong devotion to this sacramental and asked his Sisters of Charity to attach the medal to their rosary beads, which remains a common custom even today.

Pope Benedict XIV solemnly approved and recommended the use of the medal to the faithful in 1742.

Though lay people, and most priests, are forbidden to conduct exorcisms, they are permitted to use the St. Benedict Medal to ward off evil. One is allowed to:

  1. wear the medal around the neck;
  2. attach it to one’s rosary;
  3. kept in one’s pocket or purse;
  4. attach it to one’s keychain;
  5. affixed to one’s car or home;
  6. placed in the foundation of a building;
  7. affixed to the center of a crucifix, usually behind the corpus.

According to Dom Gueranger, the medal is considered effective in:

  1. asking for inner peace/spiritual healing;
  2. asking peace between individuals or between nations of the world;
  3. curing bodily afflictions especially as protection against contagious diseases;
  4. destroying the effects of witchcraft and all other diabolical and haunting influences;
  5. healing those who are suffering from wounds or illness;
  6. obtaining the conversion of sinners, especially when they are in danger of death;
  7. offering protection against storms and lightning;
  8. protecting children from nightmares;
  9. protecting a mother and her children during childbirth;
  10. protecting animals infected with plague or other maladies;
  11. protecting fields infested by harmful insects;
  12. protecting or otherwise counter the effects of poison;
  13. protecting those persons who are tempted, deluded or tormented by evil spirits.

A Crucifix/St. Benedict Medal combination is called “The Cross of a Happy Death”— not only because of the exorcizing properties of the Medal and the image of Christ’s Body, but because of St. Benedict’s particular patronage based on his death of which Pope St. Gregory the Great (A.D. 540-604) described in his Dialogue:

Six days before [Benedict] left this world, he gave orders to have his sepulcher opened, and forthwith falling into an ague, he began with burning heat to wax faint; and when as the sickness daily increased, upon the sixth day he commanded his monks to carry him into the oratory, where he did arm himself receiving the Body and Blood of our Savior Christ; and having his weak body held up betwixt the hands of his disciples, he stood with his own hands lifted up to heaven; and as he was in that manner praying, he gave up his spirit.

A plenary indulgence is granted, under the usual conditions, to one who, at the hour of his death, kisses, touches, or otherwise reverences the Crucifix/St. Benedict Medal combination and commends his soul to God’s care and protection.

Painting of St. Benedict having a vision

A St. Benedict medal may be blessed by any priest, but like all sacramentals, the St. Benedict medal serves to remind us of God and His place in our lives. It’s not a charm or talisman. The medal has no intrinsic “magic ability.”
We are assured extraordinary favors by combining the medal with special devotions in honor of St. Benedict often on Tuesdays. The Way of the Cross is also highly recommended and often associated with a devotion to the saint.

BLESSING OF ST. BENEDICT MEDALS

Both sides of the St. Benedict medal

St. Benedict Medals are the only medals that have their own special blessing in the Roman Ritual. Below is the powerful rite of blessing (long form) for St. Benedict medals, which any priest can pray.

Priest: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
Priest: I cast out the demon from you, creature medals, by God the Father almighty, who made the heavens and the earth and the seas and all that they contain. May all power of the adversary, all assaults and pretensions of Satan, be repulsed and driven afar from these medals, so that they may be for all who will use them a help in mind and body; in the name of the Father almighty, of Jesus Christ, His Son, our Lord, of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, and in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is coming to judge both the living and the dead and the world by fire.
All: Amen.
Priest: Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Our Father (the rest inaudibly until:)
Priest: And lead us not into temptation.
All: But deliver us from evil.
Priest: Save your servants.
All: Who trust in you, my God.
Priest: Let us find in you, Lord, a fortified tower.
All: In the face of the enemy.
Priest: The Lord will give strength to His people.
All: The Lord will bless His people with His peace.
Priest: Lord, send us aid from your holy place.
All: And watch over us from Sion.
Priest: Lord, heed my prayer.
All: And let my cry be heard by you.
Priest: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.
Priest: Let us pray.
Almighty God, lavish dispenser of every good, we humbly ask that by the prayers of St. Benedict you pour out your blessing on these sacred medals, impressed with letters and signs ascribed to you. Let all who will wear them with hearts intent on good works deserve to obtain health of mind and body, your holy grace, and the indulgences that have been granted to us. And may they escape by your merciful help all attacks and wiles of the devil, and finally appear in your presence sinless and holy; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.
Priest: Let us pray.
Lord Jesus Christ, who willed in redeeming the whole world to be born of a Virgin, to be circumcized, rejected by the Jews, betrayed with a kiss by Judas, bound in chains, crowned with thorns, pierced with nails, crucified between robbers, wounded with a lance, and to die at last on the cross; I humbly ask, by this your sacred passion, that you expel all attacks and wiles of the devil from the person who devoutly calls on your holy name, using these words and signs ascribed to you. May it please you to lead him (her) to the harbor of everlasting salvation, you who live and reign forever and ever.
All: Amen.
Priest: May the blessing of almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, come upon you and remain with you forever.
All: Amen.
The priest sprinkles the medals with holy water.

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