The Society of Ignatians chooses as its preferred form of crucifix for the walls of its houses and the personal desks of its members one that has a corpus that is a realistic portrayal of the agony of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross. Inserted on this crucifix is the Cross-Medal of St. Benedict.
Together with the accompanying inscription on the medal, this crucifix vividly alerts him to the:
- Sufferings of Christ Crucified
- Urgency of spiritual combat.
- Bond that unites the Ignatian to the Patriarch of consecrated life in the Western world. Thus he recalls that he joins the long line of men spread over 1500 years who have bequeathed to him the magnificent tradition of mystical and ascetical doctrine and witness. Hence, although he bonds particularly with the charism of St. Ignatius Loyola, he venerates the vast array of spiritual treasures in the Church’s history that owe so much to the founder of Monte Cassino.
On the face of the medal is the image of St. Benedict holding the cross in his right hand and the Rule for monastic life in his left. On either side of him are signs of the spiritual warfare that beset the Christian during his life on earth, especially if he is resolved to advance the cause of Christ: the poisoned cup (which he shattered with the sign of the cross he made over it) and the raven about to carry off the loaf of poisoned bread placed by an enemy)
On each side of his image are the words: “Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti” (The Cross of the Holy Father Benedict). Underneath his feet are the words “Ex S M Cassino MDCCCLXXX” (From the Holy Mountain of Cassino, 1880), referring to the 1400th anniversary of the birth of St. Benedict, the date on which the Holy See gave the Abbey of Monte Cassino exclusive rights to produce the medal.
Engraved in the circle surrounding the figure of St. Benedict are the words “Ejus in obitu nostro presentia muniamur” (May his presence protect us in the hour of death). The Ignatian hopes that he will die actively giving his life for God, with the same spirit as St. Benedict who died in the chapel at Monte Cassino, standing, his arms raised towards Heaven, supported by his brothers, after receiving Holy Communion.