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Close-up view of the image of St. Benedict.


Site: 18CH778 Johnsontown

Context: Lot 1, Surface find

Site Date Range: c. 1665-1740

Metal: Copper alloy

Dimensions: 0.5” (12.4 mm) wide, 0.62” (15.8 mm) tall,
0.02” (0.5 mm) thick

Front: “CRUX S.P. BENEDICTI” which stands for the Latin phrase Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti (Translation: “Cross of the Holy Father
Benedict”) around Saint Benedict who is holding a cross in his right hand and the Benedictine Rule in his other hand.  The Benedictine Rule is a
guideline written by the Saint for monastic life and discipline. On either side of Benedict are a raven and a cup. Both symbols represent periods in
Benedict’s life when he was saved by his faith (Gueranger 1880:11; Sutera 1997:2).

Back: A cross surrounded by several sets of initials that stand for Latin
phrases (Gueranger 1880:12-13).
     Around the rim: “V.R.S.N.S.M.V.S.M.Q.L.I.V.B.”
          Latin: Vade Retro, Satana; Nunquam Suade Mihi Vana. Sunt
                   Mala Quae Libas; Ipse Venena Bibas
          Translation: Begone, Satan! And suggest not to me your vain
                   things. The cup you offer me is evil; drink your own poison.
     On the horizontal bar of the cross: “N.D.S.M.D.”
          Latin: Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux
          Translation: Let not the dragon be my guide.
     The vertical bar of the cross: “C.S.S.M.L.”
          Latin: Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux
          Translation: May the holy cross be my light.
     In the four corners of the cross: “C.S.P.B.”
          Latin: Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti
          Translation: Cross of the Holy Father Benedict
     Atop the cross: “I.H.S.” which is a monogram of the name of Jesus
          Christ that was adopted by Society of Jesus for their official seal.
          Franciscans also used “IHS” as St. Paul’s sign, “In Hoc Signum,”
          which means “By this sign” (Deagan 2002:53).

History: This type of Saint Benedict medal is commonly referred to as an ordinary medal (Herbermann 1913:338). A medal this small would probably have been worn on a rosary instead of individually. The ordinary medal was designed after the discovery of a manuscript originally written in 1415. The manuscript contained a drawing of Saint Benedict holding a scroll in one hand and a cross in the other. Phrases written around the image were later represented as initials on the back of the medal. Wearing the medal of Saint Benedict is considered to be a silent continuous prayer (Sutera 1997:109). The medal is worn to cure sickness, the affects of poisoning and also for general physical protection (Gueranger 1880:25-26). The Saint Benedict medal is also the only medal used for exorcism (Sutera 1997:109). The phrases on the reverse side of the medal are believed to have been spoken by Benedict to banish Satan and his temptations (Sutera 1997:109). Overall, the medal would have been used to cleanse the body and soul of evil influences or even the devil himself. The first medals were created in Germany during the 17th century (Herbermann 1913:338).