The word indulgence originally meant kindness or favor. In Latin it meant the remission of a tax or debt. Under Roman law it was used to express release from captivity or punishment. In this instance, an indulgence is given to remit the temporal punishment of sin that has been forgiven. These indulgences have been declared upon the Pardon Crucifix by Pope St. Pius X in 1905, and have been approved in the pardon of the living and the souls in Purgatory in 1907.
The Front of the Crucifix: Above the cruciform figure, the familiar I.N.R.I. has been inscribed with the words “Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum.” Latin uses I instead of the English J, and V instead of U (Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm). The English translation is “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The Reverse of the Crucifix: On the transverse arms are the words, “Father, forgive them.” On the vertical beam of the Cross are the words, “Behold this heart which has so loved men.” An image of The Sacred Heart of Jesus is shown in the center.
The story of the Catholic Miraculous Medal traces back to 1806, when a poor farmer’s daughter by the name of Zoe Laboure was born. At the young age of 24, she entered the Sisters of Charity and changed her name to Catherine. On July 18 of the same year, she saw a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who came to her in the Chapel. Catherine and Mary supposedly spoke for more than two hours. On November 27, 1830, Mary revisited Sister Catherine and presented a beautiful picture of herself. Catherine confessed this vision, which after investigation was deemed authentic by Catholic authorities. Sister Catherine had one final vision of Mary, during which she received even more detailed descriptions about Mary’s miraculous medal. Sister Catherine saw Mary standing on top of a globe, shooting rays of light from her hands. Her feet were stamping on a serpent, the representation of Satan. Around the image was an inscription that described Mary’s sinlessness. Two years after Sister Catherine first had these visions, the church minted and distributed medals throughout Paris. Thanks to the tale of devotion surrounding the medal’s creation, the phenomenon swept across Paris. It became widely reported that the medal graced those who wore it with prosperity, health, and faith. Soon, people took to calling the medal “Miraculous.” In 1836, six years after Sister Catherine first witnessed Mary in the Chapel, the Catholic Church launched a canonical inquiry into the legitimacy of the apparitions. This inquiry concluded that Sister Catherine’s visions were indeed genuine. Today, hundreds of thousands of Catholics the world over wear Miraculous medals as testimonies of repentance, prayer, and faith.
There is indeed no medal that possesses such wonderful power and none so highly esteemed by the holy Church as the Medal of St. Benedict. Whosoever wears this medal with devotion, trusting to the life-giving power of the holy Cross and the merits of the holy Father St. Benedict, may expect the powerful protection of this great Patriarch in his spiritual and temporal needs. The medal is one of the oldest and most honored medals used by Catholics and due to the belief in its power against evil is also known as the “devil-chasing medal.” As early as the 11th century, it may have initially had the form of Saint Benedict’s cross, and was used by pope Leo IX. The reverse side of the medal carries the Vade retro satana (“Step back, Satan”) formula, which has been used by Catholics to ward off evil since the 15th century. Sometimes carried as part of the rosary, it is also found individually. In widespread use after its formal approval by Pope Benedict XIV in the 18th century, the medal is used by Catholics to ward off spiritual and physical dangers, especially those related to evil, poison, and temptation.