I've written about the St. Benedict medal before. I like the medal, and wearing it, as it's a nice visual reminder of Christus Victor theology. As Gustaf Aulen describes the Christus Victor motif:
[Christus Victor's] central theme is the idea of the Atonement as a Divine conflict and victory; Christ--Christus Victor--fights against and triumphs over the evil powers of the world, the 'tyrants' under which mankind is in bondage and suffering...The work of Christ is first and foremost a victory over the powers which hold mankind in bondage: sin, death, and the devil.As I recount in Reviving Old Scratch (now available from Amazon), I first came across the medal of St. Benedict when visiting a Benedictine monastery. In the bookstore at the monastery I was buying a copy of The Rule of St. Benedict and the sister selling it to me threw into the bag a couple of St. Benedict medals. "Please, you can have some of these," she said, "They are medals of St. Benedict. They give protection from evil."
Well, who doesn't want a little protection from evil?
But seriously, the mention of evil caught my attention. "Protection from evil" rings of Christus Victor. So when I got back home I did a little reading about why the medal of St. Benedict is associated with this sort of protection. I shared some of this information in a post from 2012.
The medal, as you can see to the right and above in my picture, has two sides. On the front of the medal is an image of Benedict himself. In his left hand he is holding a copy of The Rule and in his right hand he is holding a cross aloft.
The Christus Victor themes are found on the backside of the medal.
Around the border of the medal are the letters V, R, S, N, S, M, V--S, M, Q, L, I, V, B. These letters stand for the Latin words Vade Retro Satana! Nunquam Suade Mihi Vana! Sunt Mala Quae Libas. Ipse Venena Bibas! Translated this means, "Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! Evil is the cup you offer. Drink the poison yourself!"
These are the inscriptions on the medal that relate to its association with protection against Satan, evil, and temptation.
Because of the explicit command to Satan--"Begone Satan!"--the Medal of St. Benedict has often been used for exorcisms. In fact, as I've shared before, for this purpose the medal is often incorporated into the crucifix to create a St. Benedict's Cross (pictured to the right). Though associated with exorcisms the more normal and workaday use of the St. Benedict Cross is like that of the medal, as a general talisman/prayer against evil.
Anyway, when I saw these St. Benedict medal bracelets at the store I picked two up and gave one to Jana. Lots of prayers and biblical admonitions come to mind when I look at it. For example:
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." --James 4.7
But my favorite text is from the gospels. Peter upon hearing that Jesus is heading to the cross is rebuked by Jesus: "Get behind me, Satan!"
As I describe in Reviving Old Scratch that's the fork in the road I face everyday. One choice leads to self-giving love. And the other choice is tempting me away from love. That second path, the one leading away from the cross, I identify with Satan. As Jesus did.
And so in choosing the cross I pray with Jesus, with a little visual prompt from my St. Benedict bracelet:
"Get behind me, Satan!