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AMONG THE MOST INTRIGUING objects in the history of jewelry are medals, particularly devotional medals, which date back at least to Egyptian times, and possibly even before.  Since man has recorded history, we find medals as a cultural phenomenon, expressing the faith in the God or gods of the time, and bringing hope and solace to the medal wearers.


Despite the differences of language and the specifics of individual religious beliefs and symbols, these medals are still all very much alike. Their main purpose is and always has been to turn the wearer’s attention onto a Supreme Power, however he/she may be conceived by the individual.


In a separate category are military medals, which hold a special place of honor internationally.  They are given as expressions of a nation’s appreciation for outstanding military service, usually without regard to rank.  Considered the most prestigious medal existing today, the British Victoria Cross is given to members of the military to honor a specific act of courage in the face of the enemy. 


                       Many Different Types of Medals


Academic medals are another highly valued category, prized by students all over the world and given for outstanding academic achievement. Still, religious or devotional medals lead all others in popularity and number. They don’t have to be awarded, they can be bought by the individual, and no special achievement stands behind them.  They belong to all people.


Archaeologists have found Christian devotional medals dating back as far as the 2nd Century.  It is believed that the practice of wearing medals came into being specifically to counter the pagan practice of medal-wearing to ward off evil spirits.  Wicca adherents (modern day witchcraft practitioners) still wear medals for that purpose.


Of course, medals have long been an important devotional tool within the Catholic Church.  In the 16th Century, Pope Pius V, later canonized a Saint, started the practice of blessing medals.  By the 1600s, medals had become so popular that entire cities in Europe had their own medals inscribed with images of their patron saints.  


                                       Medal of Miracles


The Miraculous Medal has long been very special in the Catholic religion. It is also known as the Medal of the Immaculate Conception.  It was created by Saint Catherine Laboure of France, following her vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1830.


During that vision, Catherine reportedly heard Mary request that certain sacred images be put on medallions to be worn by the faithful. The medal became known as the Miraculous Medal because of the extraordinary number of miracles reported by wearers.







                                      Patron Saint Medals & Pins



Patron Saints are specifically revered by Roman Catholics, although people of many faiths have had special devotions to one or another of them. There are literally thousands of Patron Saints, considered as special intercessors before God for, among other things, members of a special profession or occupation, or for people who live in a specific town or country or who have special needs.

   —Only a few of these have the official blessing of the Catholic Church itself. 


Still, Patron Saints are very important to many people and medallions (and pins) commemorating them often bring a great deal of solace and peace to their wearers. Tack pins, beautifully carded for gift-giving, are particularly ideal Patron Saint amulets, updated to fit today’s generation of users.  Here are just a few of those available:

  • Saint Michael, Patron Saint of police, and all those by the same name.






  • Saint Christopher, worn to protect travelers.






  • Saint Daniel, Patron Saint of wisdom and learning.






  • Saint Peregrine, Patron Saint of cancer.  What a wonderful, thoughtful gift for someone suffering from this disease.


                                                Crib Medals


There are devotional medals for many specific situations, too.  Medals for little children are highly regarded, and make for wonderful birth and birthday gifts. And how about little crib medals invoking the protection of the angels for a little one?  This is a lovely gift to welcome a newborn into the world.


And. what animal lover wouldn’t truly love a devotional medal especially for a beloved pet cat or dog?  If you think this a bit irreverent, don’t.  Remember Saint Francis and his remarkable love for all the creatures of the earth, and suddenly such medals will take on a new meaning.  

  • Ever-watchful guardian angel pet tags are adorably carded to delight any pet owner.  Available in a variety of styles for both cats and dogs.
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

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