St. Benedict teaches us that God is always with us, no matter how many times we happen to stumble along the way. With his way of life and preaching he founded Western monasticism.
San Benedetto da Norcia was born in 480 in the ancient city of Norcia.
As a teenager, during the years when the Western Roman Empire was collapsing, he was sent to Rome to study literature.
When there, the young man was as much strucked by the profligacy of the costumes that he decided to leave the city to retire on the mountains of Subiaco, halfway between Rome and Naples.
There he spent three years as a hermit: soon he spread the word about his zealous lifestyle, which immediately met with the favor of the surrounding monastic community. A multitude of followers began to gather around his hermitage. Soon the interest aroused earned him the hostility of a rival priest, as well as two attempted poisonings that convinced him to leave the town to settle in Montecassino, where the Benedictine Abbey of the same name is still located.
Ora et labora: Saint Benedict’s teaching.
Saint Benedict teaches us that God is always with us, no matter how many times we happen to stumble along the path. With his way of living and preaching he founded the Western monasticism.
From the Benedictine Rule emerges the true essence not only of its modus vivendi, but also of its character and its ideal of Christian life. Although his religious experience had begun in a solitary way, St. Benedict formulated the monastic life as a path lived in community, consecrated to the common good.
His Rule is a set of guidelines aimed at organizing the daily life of a monastery on two levels: worldly and spiritual. In this context, the abbot, elected and advised by his monks, becomes the leader of the community and as such is the only one to respond before God to his own conduct, but also that of the friars.
Beyond poverty, chastity and obedience, it is fair to say that moderation distinguishes the Rule of St. Benedict. The austerity of Benedictine life is in fact counterbalanced by certain concessions: for example, the friars are allowed to sleep a sufficient number of hours, to consume a sufficient quantity of food, and to wear clothes suitable for the season.
Saint Benedict’s medal
The first coinage of a medal celebrating Saint Benedict dates back to 1880.
At the center of the obverse of the medal stands out the relief figure of the Saint with the cross in one hand, and the Rule in the other. Both signify the work of evangelization carried out by the hermit and his monks throughout Europe.
On the margin of the obverse appears the following sentence: Ejus in obitu our praesentia muniamus, or “That in our death we are strengthened by his presence”, which reveals another function of the Saint: that of fostering a peaceful death.
The downside would seem at first even more incomprehensible, since it carries a whole series of indecipherable letters. In fact, to understand them, we must know the exact words to which they correspond:
C S S M L | Crux sacra sit mihi lux. Nunquam draco sit mihi dux.
The Holy Cross is my light. The devil is not my leader.
C S P B | Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti.
Cross of the Holy Father Benedict.
V R S N S M V – S M Q L I V B | Vade retro Satan. Nunquam suade mihi vana. Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas.
Go back Satan. You will not persuade me of evil things. What you present to me is bad. Drink your poisons yourself.
The medal suggests the idea of protection.
Finally, at the top of the reverse we see the word PAX, peace: the Benedictine motto.