One of the more fascinating aspects of resurrecting an historic old building such as the El Moore is what you can learn about the character and personality of the building in the process. Sometimes it seems like the building opens itself up and invites us in, sharing all sorts of interesting tidbits and helping us to draw an ever-clearer and more definitive picture of who the El Moore is and where he has been.
Yes. That’s right. Who.
But then there are those other times when we are left with little more than colorful hints and clues, parts of a puzzle/picture that offer a glimpse into a deeper narrative that, once seen and understood in full, might expose something altogether unexpected. Take the Saint Benedict Medals, for example, which were found hanging from a nail above nearly every window in the building. Or what about those crosses that were found above the doors? One thing we know for certain about the El Moore is that it was never a monastery, nor was it ever used or owned by any overly religious group or organization.
So what gives? Maybe it was an artistic touch, although that seems a bit heavy-handed. After doing a bit of research on the history of the Saint Benedict Medals, there is definitely some interesting background that might shed some light, or at the very least make for a good story. Here’s some interesting information from a post on the Catholic website St. Peter’s List entitled “7 Things You Must Know About St. Benedict’s Medal”:
#5. The Medal Wards Against
1. To destroy witchcraft and all other diabolical and haunting influences;
2. To impart protection to persons tempted, deluded, or tormented by evil spirits;
3. To obtain the conversion of sinners into the Catholic Church, especially when they are in danger of death;
4. To serve as an armor against temptation;
5. To destroy the effects of poison;
6. To secure a timely and healthy birth for children;
7. To afford protection against storms and lightning;
8. To serve as an efficacious remedy for bodily afflictions and a means of protection against contagious diseases.
Then there’s this from Wikipedia:
The medal is one of the oldest and most honored medals used by Catholics and due to the belief in its power against evil is also known as the “devil-chasing medal”. As early as the 11th century, it may have initially had the form of Saint Benedict’s cross, and was used by pope Leo IX.
The reverse side of the medal carries the Vade retro satana (“Step back, Satan”) formula which has been used by Catholics to ward off evil since the 15th century. Sometimes carried as part of the rosary, it is also found individually.
In widespread use after its formal approval by pope Benedict XIV in the 18th century, the medal is used by Catholics to ward off spiritual and physical dangers, especially those related to evil, poison, and temptation.
And then this from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
It is doubtful when the Medal of St. Benedict originated. During a trial for witchcraft at Natternberg near the Abbey of Metten in Bavaria in the year 1647, the accused women testified that they had no power over Metten, which was under the protection of the cross. Upon investigation, a number of painted crosses, surrounded by the letters which are now found on Benedictine medals, were found on the walls of the abbey, but their meaning had been forgotten. Finally, in an old manuscript, written in 1415, was found a picture representing St. Benedict holding in one hand a staff which ends in a cross, and a scroll in the other. On the staff and scroll were written in full the words of which the mysterious letters were the initials. Medals bearing the image of St. Benedict, a cross, and these letters began now to be struck inGermany, and soon spread over Europe. They were first approved by Benedict XIV in his briefs of 23 December, 1741, and 12 March, 1742.