Spiritual Weapons: The St. Benedict Medal

February 17, 2014

In Scripture, St. Peter tells us to be sober and watchful because, “your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The devil is real, and he wants to destroy you and me through any means possible. That’s why it’s so important that we fight back with the spiritual weapons of prayer and faith.

One of the powerful weapons in spiritual combat is the St. Benedict medal. Honored and employed for centuries, this medal has been associated with many miracles, as well as with powers of exorcism.


The exact origins of the St. Benedict medal are uncertain, although it is said that the first medal was worn by the 11th century Pope, Leo IX, who attributed his miraculous recovery from a snake bite to it. St. Benedict medals of various types have been in use ever since, but the medal in its current form, known as the Jubilee medal, was not struck until 1880, when it was created to honor the 1,400th anniversary of St. Benedict’s birth.


The St. Benedict medal is rich in meaning. The front contains an image of St. Benedict holding a cross and his famous monastic rule. On his left and right are words meaning, “The cross of our holy father, St. Benedict.” The outer edge contains the words in Latin, “May we at our death be fortified by his presence.”

The back of the medal is even more interesting. It contains a series of initials that stand for a Latin exorcism prayer, as well as a prayer for guidance.

Emblazoned on the prominently placed cross are the letters C S S M L – N D S M D, which stand for the Latin prayer:

Crux sacra sit mihi lux!
Nunquam draco sit mihi dux!

Translated, it means:

The Holy Cross be my light;
Let not the dragon be my guide.

Surrounding the outer rim of the back are the letters V R S N S M V – S M Q L I V B. These letters stand for an exorcism prayer based on an incident from St. Benedict’s life.

After St. Benedict had been a hermit for three years, and his reputation for holiness had spread far and wide, he was asked by a group of monks to be their abbot. St. Benedict agreed, but some rebellious monks in the community really disliked this idea, and they decided to kill St. Benedict by poisoning his bread and wine. As St. Benedict made the sign of the cross over his food, as was his custom, he immediately knew that they had been poisoned. He threw the wine on the ground, saying:

Vade retro Satana!
Nunquam suade mihi vana!
Sunt mala quae libas.
Ipse venena bibas!

This means:

Begone, Satan,
Do not suggest to me thy vanities!
Evil are the things thou offerest,
Drink thou thy own poison!

It is this prayer that is represented by the initials surrounding the back of the medal.


Necklaces-Benedict-Antinque-Blue-Gold-1B_8St. Benedict medals are used in many ways, but always as a protection against evil. Some people bury them in the foundations of new buildings to keep them free from evil influences, while others attach them to rosaries or hang them on the wall in their homes. But the most common way to use the St. Benedict medal is to wear it. The medal can be worn by itself or embedded in a crucifix, like the one pictured.

Regardless of how it is used, the medal should always be blessed using the prayer found here. While, in former times, only Benedictines could bless the medal, now any priest can.

If you don’t have a St. Benedict medal, you can get them anywhere Catholic goods are sold. I personally like this one, as it is affordable and rugged. Also, the awesome combat rosaries, created by Fr. Richard Heilman to be the ultimate spiritual weapons, come with a St. Benedict medal attached (these rosaries should be in every man’s arsenal).

If you don’t own a St. Benedict medal, I highly recommend you get one. It’s basic protection, like the bullet proof vest of sacramentals!

Sam Guzman


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Reader Interactions


      • Fr. C. says

        The idea that a medal has more grace and power if blessed by a Benedictine is nonsense. The blessing of a priest (when a priest has faculties to bless – which most all of them do) is the blessing of God – it has nothing to do with the priest – the priest is the channel of God’s blessing. How can God’s blessing be more powerful from one priest than another? God’s blessing is God’s blessing whether a priest is diocesan or Benedictine. If the ritual for blessing the medal of St. Benedict is used by ANY priest, the medal is just is spiritually useful as if it were blessed by a Benedictine.

  1. Jarrod says

    I have a general question about sacramentals. I am returning to the Church in the wake of my wife’s joining it from a Presbyterian and Lutheran background, and while I am by no means an iconoclast I do have some reservations about these medals and things. My question specifically is how do avoid treating these things like talismans and forgetting the real source of their power? I didn’t invest a lot in these things growing up, so I don’t even have that to draw on. I got one of the combat rosaries with the Benedictine medal, and it comes with a list of how to gain indulgences with it. I need to make sure I treat these objects the right way, which is to say in a Christ-centered way. I’d appreciate any help, and I don’t mean at all to imply there’s anything wrong with the way anyone here is doing things. Thanks.

    • Kevin says

      I think you sort-of answered your own question. You are correct that they are not talismans or icons, nor do they hold any power within themselves, i.e. they are not magic. Further, they do not confer grace ipso facto, the way the Seven Sacraments do. Rather, sacramentals prepare us (and in a sense, enable us) to receive God’s grace. Even a simple blessing by a priest, deacon, or bishop is a sacramental. The power associated with such things comes not from an object or person, but from God Himself. Keeping that point in mind should help against abuse of sacramentals. Hope that helps. I’m not a priest, so if you have further questions, a priest would probably be more helpful in giving specific spiritual guidance in these matters.

      And in regards to your return to the Church, welcome home! 🙂 I’ll say a prayer for you.

      • Kevin says

        I should clarify that they are in a sense icons, in that they point towards something else (God) but God is not contained in said object. What I meant to say is that these should not be treated as idols.

      • Jarrod says

        Thanks, brother. It’s always good to get some indication that I’m on the right track. I feel like one way to address my weaknesses from before is to surround myself with these things and thus build a foundation of good reminders, always pointing me back to Christ.

    • The Catholic Gentleman says


      This is a great question, and as a convert to Catholicism, I can sympathize with your feelings of caution. Let me try to build on Kevin’s comments a little.

      One of the problems protestants have always had, as you no doubt know, is a fear of anything physical. Physical objects like medals, as well as physical actions like genuflecting, are immediately associated with idolatry in the protestant mind. It is gnostic almost, ignoring that we are physical, and not just spiritual beings.

      This fear of physical things is not Christian, nor does it have anything to do with the faith that preceded Christianity—Judaism. God expressly commanded the Jews to create physical things of great beauty, including the ark of the covenant, the temple, and the priestly vestments. If physical objects were inherently idolatrous, God would never have placed such a stumbling block before his people.

      Now, protestants may argue that these are pictures pointing to Christ, and we no longer need them since we now have Christ. But that misses the point, because God has always used intermediaries—both people and objects—to accomplish his will. As an example, he used Moses’s rod to part the Red Sea, handkerchiefs touched by St. Paul to heal the sick (Acts 19:12, a biblical example of relics), Elisha’s bones to raise the dead (2 Kings 12:31, another example of relics), water to heal the sick (John 5:7), the ark of the covenant to win battles, and countless other examples.

      So to summarize, God is obviously not threatened or angry when we use physical things for worship or to display his power. He often outright commands their use. Don’t worry that you are detracting from the glory of Christ! The only time to worry is when you demand that God work through an object, as if it were magic. We should never attempt to manipulate spiritual power as if God were our servant—but I’ve never seen anyone do that with a sacramental.

      Also, realize that some of it is just adjusting to the “atmosphere” of Catholicism, which is markedly different than protestantism, and some things might feel strange for a while, like moving into a new house feels strange. That does not mean it is wrong, it is just foreign. Do everything prayerfully and with a good intention, and you cannot go wrong.

      I hope I haven’t rambled on too much. I’m sure I’ve said things you already know. Feel free to contact me anytime if you want to continue the discussion.

      God bless you, and welcome home.


      • Jarrod says


        Thanks, and I think that’s a great answer. Your site, and others like it I’ve encountered on the way back in, have been such blessings.

  2. Jeff Walker says

    Loved the article! I recently added a St. Benedict medal to the Miraculous Medal chain that I’ve worn around my neck since 2001.

    As an aside I would also like to refer your readers to http://churchmilitant.com/ and their combat rosaries. The Church Militant Combat Rosary is based upon the original pull chain rosary that was commissioned and procured by the U.S. government and upon request was issued by the military to soldiers serving in World War I. They come with a St. Benedict medal and you may also add an optional military branch or service (police/fire) medal that has either St. Michael or St. Christopher on the reverse side.

    My son enlisted in the Marine Corps and will leave for boot camp this fall. I purchased this rosary and optional USMC medal for him and he loves it. He had it blessed by our parish priest and took it with him on his trip to Washington DC and the March For Life in January.

  3. Ian says

    There is a wonderful book on the St. Benedict medal by Dom Prosper Gueranger called “The Medal or Cross of Saint Benedict”. It is a good source on the history, devotion, and some great miracles pertaining to the St. Benedict medal.

  4. Rafael Hawkins says

    I have experienced the assistance of St. Benedict through a blessed crucifix/medal of his. I had dreams and nightmares of evil spirits threatening me and after going to confession and wearing the said blessed sacramental I have seen peace and blessings in my life. Thanks so much to St. Benedict, servant of Jesus and the holy Catholic Church.

  5. ovidio Martinez says

    I love the scriptures about st.Benedict im wearing his bracelet that my girlfriend bought me it’s almost a year now and I love it thank you blessed st.Benedict amen

  6. Elizabeth says

    I’m not sure how to go about this but a man gave me this rosary with a cross with the prayer an two small medallions of saint Benedict .and a small cross.but the rosary kept breaking not wit the beads everywhere but just falling off my neck unattached itself from another bead so I keep putting it together and tightened the beads.I’m Roman Catholic but I’m lantina and how I grew up but I know this has to have some kind of meaning.

  7. Cherie blessed says

    My St Benedict medal keeps falling off a rather thick chain . The clasp is intact and the bale ishad no space to slip off. This has happened T least 3 times


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