What religious medal do you carry?

“You do know there’s more than just one medal like that, don’t you?”

The question came from a fellow parish member after my article on the St. Benedict medal appeared (July 17) http://bit.ly/1LSc0wa. Louis wanted to remind me, especially, of the St. Christopher medal which he believes helped save his life on fall day when he rolled and totaled his car.

“I had that medal locked in my fingers,” he said. It had fallen from its usual spot on the visor and somehow landed in Louis’ hand as the car crashed. He ended up with only two scratches and the doctors couldn’t believe he had even survived. His wife, Betty, said that — in the ambulance — “the first thing he had to show me was that medal in his hand.”

The reverse of a Marian medal, showing the Cross, Mary’s monogram and the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. (Patricia Kasten | The Compass)

Religious medals of the saints, angels, Mary and various aspects of the life of Jesus — from the Sacred Heart to Corpus Christi — are worn by countless Catholics, and some non-Catholics. Blessed medals are sacramentals. There are even St. Francis medals that people can put on the collars of pets.

Sacramentals are defined as words, actions or objects that confer grace through the church’s power of intercession. This intercession — the prayer of the church — prepares us to receive the grace that flows to us through Christ’s Paschal Mystery: his Passion, death and resurrection. Many sacramentals also remind us of one or more of the seven sacraments instituted by Christ and help strengthen our faith and devotion.

God’s grace and the church’s prayers were with Louis when he was driving that day, just as they are with all of us as we share the journey that leads us to full union with God and all the saints — whether they have medals or not.

About Patricia Kasten

Kasten is the author of “Linking Your Beads, The Rosary’s History, Mysteries and Prayers,” published by Our Sunday Visitor Press.  Her newest book, on sainthood – “Making Sense of Saints. Fascinating Facts about Relics, Patrons, Saint-Making and More“, was published by OSV in Spring 2014.  She is also a puzzle-smith. Her weekly Scripture Search puzzle (see The Compass) and bi-weekly The Cross Word, both based on the Sunday readings, appear in Catholic newspapers and parish bulletins around the country.