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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?

  • Welcome to the site! Could you provide some context behind this text as well as anything that you've tried? – brianpck Jun 30 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... – AstralMystic Jun 30 at 13:11
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    Take a look at this link: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Benedict_Medal – brianpck Jun 30 at 13:13
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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 at 20:45
  • Is non (draco) sit a medievalism? Classical usage would be ne. – TKR Jul 1 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 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). – Sebastian Koppehel Jul 1 at 22:44
  • Minor quibble: this is a prayer of exorcism, not a blessing :) – brianpck Jul 2 at 1:39
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SITE RULES say enquirers must make some effort at translation. This prevents the generous responders from being swamped, and lazy students missing out on their education. Next time add your own attempts please, and we shall welcome you back.

  May the sacred cross be my light;
Let not the the dragon be my leader;
Go back Satan;
Never persuade me, vain being;
What you pour out are evil things;
May you drink the poison yourself.
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    One correction: "vana" is neuter accusative plural and the object of "suade." – brianpck Jun 30 at 13:15
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    Thank you Hugh. – AstralMystic Jun 30 at 13:18
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    @Hugh: This rule is rarely enforced. Given your strength of feeling--I agree--why did you provide an answer? While I'm here: "ipse venena bibas" = "may you drink the poison yourself"; intensifier ipse/ ipsi is used with first/ third-person e.g. "consules ipsi...". With "you" e.g. "you were reading to yourself" = "tibi legebas"; "you have never loved yourself" = "numquam te amavisti"; "nosce te ipsum" = "learn to know yourself"; therefore, should it be "te venena bibas"? – tony Jun 30 at 13:54
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    The way the moderators (I and Cerberus lately) have interpreted the rule is that all questions need sufficient elaboration and explanation of what is wanted. Requiring attempted translations is sometimes silly, especially if the asker knows nothing about Latin. A Google translation doesn't help, so why require one? Asking for more context is always fine. In this case context was added in a comment and I edited it in; I don't know what more we could ask for. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jun 30 at 19:40
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    Hugh, thank you for taking the rules of the site seriously. In general, we (the community on Meta?) decided that translation requests should normally require some sign that the asker did whatever he could easily do in order to get closer to translating his text. This can be summarised as making a minimal effort at attempting a translation. I think a major reason behind this was that our users dislike "lazy" translation requests. This user, however, seems to have made some effort at providing context, at least now. So I think in this case we can let the votes speak for themselves? – Cerberus Jul 2 at 1:47

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