Is it OK to pray what’s on the St. Benedict Medal?

A question that I have gotten on a few recent occasions, including following the homily I preached this past Sunday about exorcisms (PDF download), is: Is it OK to say the prayer that is on the medal of St. Benedict?

Because of its length (and possibly to avoid having people actually pray it themselves, though I only speculate on that point), it is abbreviated on a traditional medal — just the first letter of each word (in Latin) is given. Spelled out, one of the prayers is: “Vade retro Satana! Nunquam suade mihi vana! Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas!” (Get behind me, Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer is evil. Drink the poison yourself!)

The concern that people have — and this goes back to my homily — is that, if recited by the person wearing the medal, he or she would be speaking directly to the Evil One. And that is not a good idea.

It is important to remember that the Medal of St. Benedict is a sacramental which itself is blessed using a prayer of exorcism. (See here for another post about who may do this blessing/exorcism.) As a sacramental, the medal is endowed with spiritual power by the Church to accomplish that which the Church intends by it.

Therefore, I would say that the prayer on the medal is not for us to say, since it is not prudent to speak to the devil or his demons. Rather, the Church, as it were, says the prayer on our behalf – since it is on the medal she endowed with special powers for our spiritual protection. The medal itself is the prayer, if you will. This is why it is so important to have a St. Benedict Medal properly blessed and exorcised by a priest who uses the correct formula. Many have spoken from experience of the power this medal has, when used with faith and trust in God and not superstitiously.

When we are tempted, we should ask God, the Blessed Mother, and the other saints to deliver us from the evil that threatens. Perhaps during that quick moment of prayer we might touch the medal that we are wearing to recall that extra layer of help we have assumed. In any case, we should never address the evil directly ourselves.

Incidentally, the Monastery of St. Benedict (Monastere San-Benoit) in La Garde-Freinet, France produces very fine medals of St. Benedict at reasonable prices, and it does not take forever for them to get to the US by the shipping method they use. Take a look at this page (or click the photo above) to see what they currently offer.

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