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The Significance of The Pope Leo XIII Medal
What is the Pope Leo XIII Medal? (History)
In May 1901, Pope Leo XIII created the religious medal as a way to encourage more faithful to embark on a pilgrimage, and to recognize their journey in a special way. The decoration was intended to remind Holy Land pilgrims of the fruits of their pilgrimage, support those living in the Holy Land, and to call more people to Pilgrimage as well.
What does the Medal look like?
The Medal created to resemble the Cross of Jerusalem. On the front of the Cross, an image of Pope Leo XIII is engraved, surrounded by the mysteries of the Annunciation, the Nativity His Baptism, and the Eucharist on the crossbars, along with the phrase “Christ’s love attracted us” in Latin.
On the back of the cross, is an engraved image of Jesus adorned with the crowns of thorns, carrying the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Latin inscription here reads, “Sign of the Holy voyage of Jerusalem”.
The medal is either: Gold, Silver, or Bronze – and is hung from a stripped red silk ribbon. When worn, it is to be on the left side of the Pilgrim’s chest.
Purchasing the Medal
Medals are never mailed, and can only be personally collected by the Pilgrim at the Secretariat of the Custody in the Office of the Custos of the Holy Land in Jerusalem. Here, Pilgrims will receive a certificate, and also have their name engraved on their medal. In most cases, the medals will be given to individuals publicly, but in some cases for large groups, pilgrims may receive their medals solemnly. All proceeds of the purchase of the medals are at to be distributed as aid for the poor and ill at the discretion of the Custody.
A 2005 Publication by Franciscan Printing Press Jerusalem from the Secretariat of the Custody of the Holy Land, called the decoration created by Pope Leo XIII for the Holy Land Pilgrims: “History and Significance for today – it beautifully outlines the importance of this medal.” The article breaks down the Medal’s significance into these three parts; a Sign, a Gesture, and a Seal on Your Heart.
A Sign: Pope Leo XIII intended the medal be created to remind the Pilgrim of the journey the took, as well as to share with others to also call them to Pilgrimage. The medal is a sign recognizing that the actual places the Pilgrim visited, were the exact same places where Jesus actually lived.
A Gesture: The purchase of the medal supports those in need who live in the Holy Land. In supporting our brothers and sisters who live where Christ lived, we are also supporting the sites we consider so Holy.
A Seal on Your Heart: Finally, the medal is like a seal as it will always remind the Pilgrim of their time in the Holy Land, all they learned, and the graces they received, just as noted in the Song of Solomon 8:6, “Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm.”
Click here to read the full “Secretariat of the Custody of the Holy Land – The Decoration Created by Pope Leo XIII for the Holy Land Pilgrims: History and Significance for today”
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“To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself” – Pope Benedict XVI
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