You might have one in your possession already, a keepsake that has become a source of comfort and reassurance of God’s presence and protection.
A sacramental, as defined by Wikipedia, “is a material object, thing or action set apart or blessed to manifest the respect due to the Sacraments, and so to excite pious thoughts and to increase devotion to God.” Holy water, palaspas waved and blessed during Palm Sunday, prayer cards (stampita), and a cross necklace are some examples of sacramentals.
My Pope cites four more that are popular among Pinoys. What makes these sacramentals even special is that they have blessed their owners with miracles!
St. Benedict medal
What is it? The front of the medal shows the image of St. Benedict of Nursia holding the Holy Cross on his right hand and his monastic rule on his left hand. The image is surrounded by the Latin words for “May we at our death be fortified by his presence.”
The back of the medal features a cross adorn with initials that run vertically (CSSML) and horizontally (NDSMD). Together, they form a Latin prayer that translates to “The Holy Cross be my light; let not the dragon be my guide.” The initials VRSNSMV – SMQLIVB found on the outer side of the medal represent an exorcism prayer based on an event from Benedict’s life.
What can it do? Plenty! According to aleteia.org, it protects you from temptation, delusion, or being tormented by evil spirits; obtains the conversion of sinners; and secures the timely and healthy birth of children. Wear it as a pendant, hang it on the rearview mirror of your car or doorknobs of your home, bury it under the foundation of a building, or slip it into one of the compartments of your wallet.
Does it work? Pope Leo IX, said to be the first to wear the St. Benedict medal, credits it for healing his snakebite.
Healing spring water from the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes
What is it? Within the Lourdes Shrine Complex in Barangay Graceville, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, is a spring whose cool, clear water is said to possess healing properties. As the story goes, property owner Anita Guidote-Guanzon first learned about the spring from her caretaker. Having collected water from the pilgrimage town of Lourdes, Frances (where she was healed of cancer), she gathered the bottles containing the miracle water and poured them into her property’s spring.
What can it do? Heal the sick, which is why people patiently line up to fill their empty bottles with spring water that now comes out of faucets. Believers drink the water, bathe in it, and use it to wash their wounds and injuries.
Does it work? Anita attributes the spring water for healing her from dengue in 1966. “As a child…the Grotto…played a big role in my life,” wrote CarlRuaya in TripAdvisor in December 2015. “Every time I’m sick my mom always asks me to drink the “holy water” that was from the Grotto…every time I drink the holy water from the Grotto, I am being healed in almost an instant.”
Black Nazarene handkerchief
What is it? A piece of cloth (in a variety of colors—brown, maroon, yellow, white) bearing the face of Jesus or the image of the Black Nazarene statue, as well as prayers that include the Ama Namin.
What can it do? Devotees who wipe the cloth on the life-size wooden statue during the annual traslacion on January 9 and wipe it on themselves or others say it gives them strength and restores their good health.
Does it work? Yes, according to participants in the bone-crushing crowd who risk life and limb to come as close as they can to wipe their hankies on the Black Nazarene. Julius Bulawan said his lola was healed of high blood pressure after he wiped her with the hanky that touched the wooden statue last year. And six years ago, Queen of all Media Kris Aquino held up a Black Nazarene handkerchief as Msgr. Clem Ignacio prayed for the mother of her friend, TV host Boy Abunda. The actress and presidential sister then placed the hanky in a Ziploc and presented it to Boy.
What is it? Originally an apron or vest-like garment worn by members of the Benedictine order, the scapular is now two small pieces of cloth joined together by strings and worn underneath clothing, one in the front of the body, the other in the back. According to catholicexchange.com, the Church recognizes 18 scapulars, their different colors representing a particular devotion or affiliation. The most popular scapular is the brown one of Our Lady of Mr. Carmel.
What can it do? “Those who wear [the brown scapular] faithfully as an expression of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, will be granted the grace of final perseverance,” said learnreligions.com, “that is, to remain firm in the faith even in the moment of their death.”
Does it work? “Some people say that a person who wears a scapular goes straight to heaven when he passes on,” wrote TV personality Boy Abunda, a devotee of the Lady of Mediatrix and the Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag. “But I wasn’t thinking about heaven when I started wearing one. I just had it.”
“I’m fidgety without my scapular. I touch it in times of joy and peril. I automatically search for my scapular when I am not feeling well and when I don’t feel secure either emotionally or physically. When I won in the Asian Television Awards for The Bottomline, I remember I was holding on to my scapular pressing it nervously against my chest. When I have a bum stomach, I hold on to my scapular for safety. It has become a part of who I am.”