What do these letters mean?

Today I received a small wooden crucifix as an early birthday gift from two co-workers, one a Palestinian Catholic and the other an American Jew. The crucifix is about 4 inches tall and was made in Jerusalem by relatives of the Catholic friend.

There is a metal medalion on the front behind Jesus’ Head with five groups of letters that appear to be abbreviations. I think the V’s may be U’s in keeping with older printing. Here are the groups:

**S M Q L I V B **These letters are on the left edge of the medalion
**V R S N S M V **These letters are on the right edge of the medalion

N D S M D These letters go across the Cross on the medalion
C S S M L These letter go down the Cross on the medalion

C S P B Each of these 4 letters are in a circle in each of the four quadrants made by the Cross + on the Medalion

There is also a metal medalion on the back side with an image of Jesus in a long robe holding a Cross in His right Hand and an open book in His left hand. The letters on this medalion appear to be words:


Does anyone know the meanings?

I think it’s a St. Benedict Medal behind Jesus’s head.

“On the back is a cross, containing the letters C S S M L - N D S M D, initials of the words Crux sacra sit mihi lux! Non draco sit mihi dux! (“May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my overlord!”).Surrounding the back of the medal are the letters V R S N S M V - S M Q L I V B, in reference to Vade retro satana: Vade retro Satana! Nunquam suade mihi vana! Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas! (“Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!”) and finally, located at the top is the word PAX which means “peace”.”

The medallion is a St. Benedict Medal. I think you’ll find some information here:


Thank you both. I do not recall ever seeing a St Benedict Medal before which is now a bit amazing to me.

I was baptized in St Benedict’s Church in Rhode Island. My wife and I made our First Communions and Confirmation and were married in old St B’s. As a kid I was particularly impressed by the INRI on the Crucifix. I read it as “In RI.” Only years later did I learn INRI is “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

Thank you again for a solid answer. I will share it with my co-workers and family.

Yes, it sounds like the Jubilee medal of St. Benedict

The website for the Benedictines has a nice page on its history and uses:

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That is so cool. Sounds like St. Benedict was looking out for you all these years!

The actual (or rather probable) inscription on the cross was

“IESVSNAZARENVSREXIVDAEORVM” (all caps, without spaces)

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