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I saw following text on the back of a T-shirt:

Crux sacra sit mihi lux
Non draco sit mihi dux
Vade retro Satana,
Numquam suade mihi vana
Sunt mala quae libas,
Ipse venena bibas

Image of the print:

I just met a guy with a shirt with this text on it's back. There was also a St. Benedict's Cross on the front with some words but I haven't captured it.

Could anyone translate for me this text, please?

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  • Welcome to the site! Could you provide some context behind this text as well as anything that you've tried?
    – brianpck
    Jun 30, 2020 at 12:51
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    Well, I just met a guy with a shirt with this text on it's back. There was also a St. Benedict's Cross on the front with some words but I haven't captured it. Unfortunately all I possibly imagine was to use those OCR scanners but I saw it couldn't recognize letters correctly and in addition with google translator the text I've received was this: Holy Cross be my light The dragon will not be my guide GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN, JUMQUAM suggest to me PHANTOM There are evils which burn Sharp drink poison... Jun 30, 2020 at 13:11
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    Take a look at this link: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Benedict_Medal
    – brianpck
    Jun 30, 2020 at 13:13

1 Answer 1

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Those words are a Christian formula closely associated with St. Benedict and the Benedictine order. It is meant to fend off the devil and his temptations, and the translation is as follows:

May the holy cross be my light
May not the serpent be my guide
Move back, Satan,
Never promote your vanities to me
What you pour out is evil,
Drink your poison yourself.

Notes:

  1. It seems that draco is usually translated ad “dragon.” I preferred “serpent” in this context. Both words are used in conjunction with the devil in Christian literature.
  2. The central line and arguably the title of the blessing is: Vade retro Satana. This is certainly an allusion to Jesus' words in the Gospel of Mark 8:33, where he says: Vade retro me Satana: Get thee behind me, Satan.

The initials of all the words of this blessing are arranged on the reverse side of the St. Benedict Medal in a pattern nicely described here. The oldest evidence of this text appears to be a manuscript from 1414 found at the Benedictine abbey at Metten. The Germans call it Benediktussegen, or Benedict's blessing.

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  • There's a separate question about the word draco if anyone is wants to learn more about the first note.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 1, 2020 at 20:45
  • Is non (draco) sit a medievalism? Classical usage would be ne.
    – TKR
    Jul 1, 2020 at 22:07
  • @TKR I read it roughly as "may something that is not a dragon lead me", but I'm not sure if it's classically sound. A medieval quirk sounds more likely. I smell a good follow-up question...
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 1, 2020 at 22:25
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    @TKR Not classical but not medieval either. Schultz says: "Only poets and later prose writers", and quotes Horace (non sileas) and Quintilian (non desperemus). Jul 1, 2020 at 22:44
  • Minor quibble: this is a prayer of exorcism, not a blessing :)
    – brianpck
    Jul 2, 2020 at 1:39

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