Devotional Medals for Catholics

Medals carried or worn for devotion have a long history in the Church. Christians in the early Church struck medals to remember particular saints or stories from the life of Christ. One example from the second century found in the catacombs bears the portraits of Sts. Peter and Paul.

In the Middle Ages, the use of medals largely waned in popularity. By the twelfth century, the practice of casting tokens in metal grew up around pilgrimage sites, with the medals serving as souvenirs and reminders of devotion.

The popularity of medals began to grow during the Renaissance but did not reach widespread use until the post-Reformation period. The practice of striking papal jubilee medals began as early as 1475, which helped popularize the idea, as the special medals made their way all around the world.

Religious Medals and Statues for Travel

What’s in your car? Do you have a St. Christopher medal on the dashboard or a rosary hanging from the rearview mirror?

Placing religious articles in a car may seem like a harmless act of faith. In some parts of the United States, however, it became illegal to drive with objects hanging from a rearview mirror or sitting on a dashboard because they could block a driver’s view of the road. The cherished religious articles of the 1950s could lead to a fine in later years.

Among the most popular subjects for car ornaments have been the Sacred Heart, Mary as Our Lady of the Highway, and St. Christopher as the patron saint of travelers.


Spaceships, the ultimate travel machines, have carried St. Christopher medals above the earth. On June 3, 1965, astronaut Ed White boarded the Gemini 4 spaceship on his way to becoming the first American to walk in space. He took with him a St. Christopher medal, a cross, and a Star of David. When asked why he chose those three religious items, White, a devout Methodist, explained that he could not take an item from every religion in the country, but he could take one from each of the three he was most familiar with.

Originally posted 2019-05-17 17:13:13.