The Medal or Cross of St. Bendict: Its Origin, Meaning, and Priveleges by Prosper Gueranger, 1880
Besides the two figures of the cross and of St. Benedict, there are also inscribed on the medal a certain number of letters, each of which is the initial of a Latin word. These words compose one or two sentences, which explain the medal and its object. They express the relation existing between the holy Patriarch of the Monks of the West and the sacred sign of the salvation of mankind, at the same time that they offer the faithful a formula, which they may make use of, for employing the virtue of the holy cross against the evil spirits.
These mysterious letters are arranged on that side of the medal on which the cross is. Let us begin by noticing the four which are placed in the angles formed by the arms of the cross.
C. S.P. B.
They signify: Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti; in English: The Cross of Holy Father Benedict. These words explain the nature of the medal.
On the perpendicular line of the cross itself are these letters:–
They stand for these words: Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux; in English: May the Holy Cross be my Light.
On the horizontal line of the cross are these letters:–
N. D. S. M. D.
The words which they imply are: Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux; in English: Let not the Dragon be my Guide. These two lines put together form a pentameter verse, containing the Christian’s protestation that he confides in the holy cross, and refuses to bear the yoke which the devil would put upon him.
On the rim of the medal there are inscribed several other letters; and first the well-known monogram of the Holy Name of Jesus, I. H. S. Faith and our own experience convince us of the all-powerfulness of this Divine name. Then follow, beginning at the right hand, the following letters: —
V. R. S. N. S. M. V. S. M. Q. L. I. V. B.
These initials stand for the two following verses:– VADE RETRO, SATANA; NUNQUAM SUADE MIHI VANA. SUNT MALA QUAE LIBAS; IPSE VENENA BIBAS; in English: Begone, Satan! and suggest not to me thy vain things: the cup thou profferest me is evil; drink thou thy poison.
These words are supposed to be uttered by St. Benedict; those of the first verse when he was suffering the temptation in his cave, and which he overcame by the sign of the cross; and those of the second verse, at the moment of his enemies offering him the draught of death, which he discovered by his making over the poisoned cup the sign of life. The Christian may make use of these same words as often as he finds himself tormented by the temptations and insults of the invisible enemy of our salvation. Our Saviour sanctified the first of these words by himself making use of them: “Begone, Satan!” Vade retro, Satana. Their efficacy has thus been tested, and the very Gospel is the guarantee of their power. The vain things to which the devil incites us are disobedience to the law of God; they are also the pomps and false maxims of the world. The cup proffered us by this angel of darkness is evil, that is, sin, which brings death to the soul.
And now, applying these considerations to the medal which is the subject of these pages, we come to this conclusion, that it must be profitable to us to use with faith the medal of St. Benedict on occasions when we have reason to fear the snares of the enemy. Its protection will infallibly prove efficacious in every kind of temptation. Numerous and undeniable facts attest its powerful efficacy on a thousand different occasions, in which the faithful had reason to apprehend a danger, either from the direct agency of Satan, or from the effects of certain evil practices. We may also employ it in favour of others as a means of preserving or delivering them from dangers, which we foresee are threatening them. Unforeseen accidents may happen to us on land or on sea; let us carry about us this holy medal with faith and we shall be protected. Even in the most trivial circumstances, and in those interests which regard solely man’s temporal well-being, the efficacy of the holy cross and the power of St. Benedict have been felt.
For example, the wicked spirits, in their hatred of man, sometimes molest the animals which God has created for our service, or infest the various articles of nourishment which the same Providence has given to us. Or again, it is not unfrequently the case that our bodily sufferings are caused or protracted by the influence of these our cruel enemies. Experience has proved that the medal of St. Benedict, made use of with a proper intention and with prayer, has frequently broken the snares of the devil, procured a visible improvement in cases of sickness, and sometimes even effected a complete cure. –pages 11 – 12