Some time earlier this year I was on the hunt for a medal of St Benedict. Not one of the vin ordinaire cheapies (though they are not unworthy) and certainly not the mass-produced Chinese ones (I kid you not) that do not bear close inspection. A few decades ago there were some natty ones made in France (I think it was) that had one charming if un-traditional image of Our Holy Father St Benedict. They can be found you look hard enough, but second-hand and over-priced.
You might protest that since I wear the habit of a consecrated Benedictine the medal is a little outré, or at least superfluous, for a monk. Well, monks too like sacramentals: their imagery, their feel, their blessing, and (in this case), their text. I would also like to give some to friends.
For some reason it never occurred to me to check the online shop of the Monastère Saint Benoît, in southern France. Here one can find the holy grail of holy medals. At a remarkably low-price, post included, these metal medals are signed by the monastery, as it were, and are beautifully designed. They are truly crosses, and with one side bearing a fine image of St Benedict, the reverse side bearing the traditional design with its acronyms of blessings and exorcism. They come as medals simpliciter, or as keyring, or on a robust-looking chain. They are well sized at 4cm x 4cm, and come in either antique bronze or antique silver finish. Again, the prices are very reasonable, and there is a discount for multiples of 5.
The monastery is small and not endowed, and though the bishop of Fréjus-Toulon is an active supporter of the community, they just get by in financial terms. Their liturgical apostolate is a small but important witness to the tradition of the Church so happily re-awakening in the Church.
I am not on commission, so I feel quite guilt-free in suggesting to you that for those friends or family of yours who might value something a little different this Christmas, something Catholic—yea Benedictine—you would do well to give them one of these medals. Given the way 2016 has panned out, I think they are an investment as much as a gift!
To learn more about the medal and its particular charism, you can go here, or here. For its special blessing, in both English and Latin, please go here (please note that nowadays any priest may impart the blessing, not only Benedictine priests). In brief, it gives a sharp rebuke to the Devil and helps guard you for a happy death. They do not come pre-blessed, for buying and selling them would constitute simony! I am sure your local priest would be more than happy to bless a St Benedict medal for you.
Click here to purchase a St Benedict medal online. (This link does not get me any commission or material benefit, though I hope perhaps a spiritual one. Them I need.)