THE BENEMERENTI MEDAL

The Benemerenti Medal is an honour awarded by the Pope to members of the clergy and laity for service to the Catholic Church. Originally established as an award to soldiers in the Papal Army, the medal was later extended to the clergy and the laity for service to the church.

The Benemerenti Medal was first awarded by Pope Pius VI to recognize military merit. In 1831 under Pope Gregory XVI a special Benemerenti medal was struck to reward those who fought courageously in the papal army at Ferrara, Bologna, and Vienna. In 1925, the concept of awarding this medal as a mark of recognition to persons in service of the Church, both civil and military, lay and clergy alike, became acceptable. Members of the Swiss Guard may receive it for three years of faithful service.

The current version of the Benemerenti medal was designed by Pope Paul VI. The medal is a gold Greek Cross depicting Christ with his hand raised in blessing. On the left arm of the cross is the tiara and crossed keys symbol of the papacy. On the right arm is the coat of arms of the current Pope. The medal is suspended from a yellow and white ribbon, the colors of the Papacy.