Explanation of the Medal of Saint Benedict:
The Jubilee Medal of Saint Benedict
The Medal of Saint Benedict (OSB)
St. John's Abbey
Ok, I guess the first two aren't really alternate designs, they should be the same as the jubilee medal, though there are some minor variations with the second.
When I was at the seminary, Duncan Wong (now Fr. Wong) gave me a medal of St. Benedict from one of the traditional Benedictine monasteries in France; I can't remember if it was from Fontgambault or Le Barroux, but the medal certainly looks different from the Jubilee Medal. I still have the medal with me. Perhaps one of these days I will take photos of it and upload them. One of these days I would like to visit both monasteries. (Which reminds me, Clear Creek has some new photos up.)
Perhaps I can ask my mom and KK to pick some more up for me if they go to Rome. I don't think they will be going to Monte Cassino, though. They can buy medals in Rome, but they cheap imitation medals, lighter in weight. Christ the Desert Monastery sells the genuine jubilee medals, and they are somewhat pricey there, but I would rather have the genuine jubilee medal to give away than the knock-offs.
[some fantasy bimetallic coins, with Pope Benedict XVI]
The Abbey of Monte Cassino
As many of you know, the Abbey was bombed and severely damaged by the Americans during World War 2 because the Germans were using it as a fortress. It is said that the bombing did not have its intended effect, unfortunately--in fact, it made things even more difficult for the Allies, as the Germans were able to hide better in the rubble. However, it is claimed by the monks that the Germans were not hiding in the Abbey at all. [pt 2, pt 3, pt 4]
Some photos of the results of the bombing; photos at Military Photos
Wiki entry on the Battle of Monte Cassino; a website devoted to it
Time article on the bombing; on the rebuilding
British Memories of Monte Cassino
St. Benedict of Nursia established the monastery about 529. According to the old Catholic Encyclopedia, a tower where he dwelt remains, enclosed by newer buildings (the monastery has been rebuilt several times). I do not know if it survived the bombing.
At that time when I visited Monte Cassino I thought it was a dying community—the monk who was in the gift shop was rather elderly; there was no sign of the other monks. But now that I think about it, I didn’t have enough evidence to make that conclusion. After all, it seems like an appropriate task for the elderly monks to operate the gift shop, since their health prevents them from engaging in tasks requiring greater physical exertion. The other monks were probably busy with work or in cloister, not to be disturbed. Still, I would be somewhat surprised to learn that Monte Cassino is in a healthy state and attracting vocations. I can’t imagine what the difference would be like if the monastery were filled to capacity with monks. Would it still be as silent?
The basilica church was ok, but even then I had more of an Eastern sensibility, preferring Byzantine altars over the long rectangular altars common in Romanesque monasteries. I can’t find a picture of what the basilica church looked like before the bombing, so I don’t know if it was done in the same style. If I have the opportunity to visit again, I wish to spend more time at the tomb of St. Benedict.
More Information about the Abbey:
Mark and Jo Ann's Travels
Monte Cassino Abey: An Icon for Peace
The Rule of St. Benedict
Latin; Latin Library
St. Benedict's Abbey, Kansas
Sisters of St. Benedict, Indiana
Medieval Source Book
Friends of St. Benedict
About the Rule, by Abbot Jerome
Christ Desert Monastery
Benedict and Medieval Monasticism
Saint Benedict, His Rule, and Orthodoxy Laity
The Rule of St. Benedict Compared with the Rule of the Templars
John Henry Cardinal Newman, The Mission of St. Benedict
The Rule of Saint Benedict: A Doctrinal and Spiritual Commentary by Adalbert de Vogue
Icons at Alton Abbey (includes the following)
Icons of Western Saints
St. Benedict Monastery, Michigan