This morning, Deb gave me a St. Benedict medal for Valentine’s Day. She likes that her Protestant partner wants a Benedictine medal, so I think she enjoyed giving it to me as much as I enjoyed receiving it. I told her, “But Benny is quite ecumenical” which she already knew, of course. Anyway, I love the medal. Usually, Satan images don’t do much for me. But, for some reason, I like the power and seriousness of the words here. Maybe it’s because they’re a little Harry Potter-ish, a little like a “defense against the dark arts” motto (especially the “Drink the poison yourself” part). But in general I’m a fan of Benedict and his rule, so for a long time I’ve wanted to wear the medal.
Finally got one. Happy Valentine’s Day to me. :-)
On the front of the medal we find St. Benedict holding a Cross in one hand, and the Rule of St. Benedict in the other. At his sides are the words “Crux S. Patris Benedicti” (“The Cross of the Holy Father Benedict”), and below his feet: “Ex S M Casino MDCCCLXXX” (“From the holy mount of Casino, 1880”).
On that date, Monte Cassino was given the exclusive right to produce this medal, and special Jubilee indulgences were added. Still on this front side of the medal we find inscribed in a circle the words: “Ejus in obitu nostro presentia muniamur” (“May his presence protect us in our hour of death”). The reverse side of the medal is where the real exorcistic force reveals itself. In the center is a Cross. The Cross, which St. Benedict so loved and often used as a powerful exorcism, is the sign before which even Dracula shrinked. The vertical beam of the Cross bears the letters C.S.S.M.L., and the horizontal beam, the letters N.D.S.M.D.
These are the first letters of the words:
CRUX SACRA SIT MIHI LUX, May the Holy Cross be a light unto me,
NON DRACO SIT MIHI DUX. And may the Dragon never be my guide.
The four large letters at the corners of the Cross, C S P B, stand for CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI: The Cross of the Holy Father Benedict.
We are not through yet. In addition to the “Pax” (“peace”) motto at the top, we find the following letters in a circle around the margin of this side: V.R.S.N.S.M.V.: S.M.Q.L.I.V.B. It almost looks masonic; except, of course, the Benedictines are quite willing to tell you what the letters stand for, and they are enough to make any secret society get the shakes:VADE RETRO SATANA; NUNQUAM SUADE MIHI VANA. Get behind me, Satan; Never suggest vain thoughts to me.
SUNT MALA QUAE LIBAS; The cup you offer is evil;
IPSE VENENA BIBAS! Drink the poison yourself!