Benemerenti medal

Benemerenti Medal

Obverse and reverse of the medal
Awarded by His Holiness the Pope
Country   Vatican City
Eligibility Clergy and laity
Awarded for Long and exceptional service to the Catholic Church
Status Currently awarded
Established 1832
Next (higher) Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice
Next (lower) Papal Lateran Cross
Jerusalem Pilgrim's Cross

Ribbon of the medal

The Benemerenti Medal is an honour awarded by the Pope to members of the clergy and laity for service to the Catholic Church. Originally established as an award to soldiers in the Papal Army, the medal was later extended to the clergy and the laity for service to the church.


The Benemerenti Medal was first awarded by Pope Pius VI (1775–1799) to recognize military merit. In 1831 under Pope Gregory XVI (1831–1846) a special Benemerenti medal was struck to reward those who fought courageously in the papal army at Ferrara, Bologna, and Vienna.[1] In 1925, the concept of awarding this medal as a mark of recognition to persons in service of the Church, both civil and military, lay and clergy alike, became acceptable. Members of the Swiss Guard may receive it for three years of faithful service.


The current version of the Benemerenti Medal was designed by Pope Paul VI. The medal is a gold Greek Cross depicting Christ with his hand raised in blessing. On the left arm of the cross is the tiara and crossed keys symbol of the papacy. On the right arm is the coat of arms of the current Pope. The medal is suspended from a yellow and white ribbon, the colors of the Papacy.[1]

Notable recipients

As displayed at the Cork Public Museum
Awarded by Pope Benedict XV
Awarded by Pope Pius XII
Awarded by Pope John XXIII
Awarded by Pope John Paul II
Awarded by Pope Benedict XVI
Date Name Rationale
25 December 2005 Edna Heagney Long-standing service as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and for the support of her and her husband Tony to the Diocese of Middlesbrough over many years. It was presented to her at Midnight Mass, Christmas 2005
2006 Hugh Gerard McGrellis Lifetime of service to the Church, most notably as an altar server at St Mary Magdalen's Church, Brighton, Sussex, England for over 70 years
2006 Michael Francis McConnell His long-standing service as a choirmaster at St.Joseph's Cathedral Dunedin, New Zealand. It was presented to him by His Excellency Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Charles Balvo at the mass for the feast of St. Joseph.
26 April 2006 Henry Raaymakers His service as sacristan of St Joseph's Church, Chatham, Ontario, Canada. The award was presented by the Bishop of the London Diocese, Ronald Peter Fabbro.
17 Dec 2006 Sr. Yvette Lalonde for her continued commitment to the Catholic Church for over 59 years in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
2007 John McCreadie Services to the retired clergy of the Diocese of Middlesbrough, England.
2007 Anthony Brady Services to the community of the Diocese of Otago. New Zealand.
2007 John Lencioni Service to the Church at the Diocese of Fresno, CA
2 September 2007 John Brennan Service to Greyfriars Church, Oxford, as organist and choirmaster for more than four decades. Conferred by Bishop William Kenney CP at Greyfriars.
2008 Michael Madden Cork His outstanding service during his 23 years as sacristan of St. Joseph's Church, Riverstick, Cork, Ireland.
2008 William W. Gorman His service during the Pope's visit to the United States.
2008 Kevin Brennan His devoted service to the Diocese of Nottingham training and guiding its Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. The presentation was made by Monsignor Canon Thomas McGovern VG on 17 October 2008 at the Immaculate Conception Church, Oadby, Leicestershire, United Kingdom.
27 April 2008 Peggy Wilding and Olive Hewitt Received the medal at St. Theodore of Canterbury Church, Monkwick, Colchester, Suffolk, England. Both Mrs Wilding and Mrs Hewitt have served over forty years in the Catholic Church holding posts such as Chairman and Secretary of the Church Committee as well as being lifelong servants to the Church, and even organising the building of the Church in the 1960s.
2009 Richard Gladwell -
2009 Joe Lomasney 53 years service as sacristan of Church of the Immaculate Conception, Araglen in the Diocese of Cloyne, Ireland. It was presented by Most Rev. John Magee, Bishop of Cloyne.
2009 John Parnell Murphy Long-time service to the People of God of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. It was presented by Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn.
2009 Eddie Power Bishop Eamonn Walsh presented him the medal on 21 June 2009. He had been in charge of the altar server group at St. Pius X Church in Templeogue, Dublin since 1974.[2]
3 May 2009 Charles John Foote From St. George's, Newfoundland, Canada the benemerenti medal for over 50 years service to the parish of St. Joseph's. The award was presented at St. Joseph's Church in St. George's on 3 May 2009 by Bishop Douglas Crosbie, Bishop of the Diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador.
29 May 2009 Paul Lyng 33 years service as sacristan of Church of the Assumption in Booterstown, County Dublin, Ireland. It was presented by Mgr. Seamus Conway PP.
13 February 2009 Ada Power For services to the Diocese of Killaloe, Ireland.
7 June 2009 John Parnell Murphy Long-time service to the People of God of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. It was presented by Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn.
8 July 2009 Tony McAvoy For his work as a Lay Chaplain in the North East of England with the Apostleship of the Sea (Stella Maris). The medal was presented to him by Séamus Cunningham, Bishop of Newcastle and Hexham, England at the AoS Annual Pilgrimage to Holy Island, Lindisfarne.
31 July 2009 Barbara Conboy, Brigid Hanlon, and John McManus For services to Sacred Heart Jesuit Church, Edinburgh, Scotland.
October 2009 Colleen Stanford Sacristan, St. Mary's Cathedral, Hobart, Tasmania. Presented by Adrian Doyle, Archbishop of Hobart
4 October 2009 Patrick Curran 60 years service to the parish of Our Lady Star of The Sea, Greenwich, England. It was presented by Patrick Smith, Metropolitan Archbishop of Southwark
25 October 2009 Josephine Knowles Years of service to the parish of St Columba's, Tonge Moor, Bolton, Greater Manchester, England. It was presented by Father Francis McCauley.
12 December 2009 Brian Monaghan His devoted service to the Church and community of the parish of St.John the Evangelest, Kilbarrack/Foxfield, Dublin. The medal was presented by Fr. Declan Doyle.
12 December 2009 Tony Wagstaffe Service to the parish of Holy Angels, Ash, Surrey. It was presented by Father David Osbourne.
20 December 2009 Joseph Ryan 30 years of service as Parish Accountant, and other services, to St. Elphege's Church, Wallington, Surrey, England. The medal was presented by Bishop Paul Hendricks.
29 March 2009 Harvey Livingston Former Head of Finance at SCIAF and President of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, for services to the Catholic Church in Scotland. The medal was presented by Faustino Sainz Muñoz, Apostolic Nuncio to the Court of St. James's, on the fourth anniversary of the Pope's election.
10 January 2010 Dennis Selina Lifetime of service to the Church, including 69 years as church organist. The medal was presented at St. Joseph's Church, Pickering, North Yorkshire, England by Fr. Bill East.
17 January 2010 Oscar Pioquinto Batucan and Miriam Alvez Batucan Presented by the Bishop of Auckland, Patrick Dunn. This was the first time that a Filipino-New Zealand couple was awarded the medal.
2 May 2010 Donald H Williams From Culloden, Inverness, Scotland received the medal in St. Columba's Church, Culloden, Inverness. It was presented by Bishop Peter Moran of Aberdeen, Scotland.
19 March 2010 John Bannerman From Invergordon, Ross-shire, Scotland received the medal in St. Joseph's Church, Invergordon. It was presented by Bishop Peter Moran of Aberdeen, Scotland, in recognition of 72 years service to the Catholic Church as an altar server, reader, passkeeper and Eucharistic minister.
9 June 2010 Thomas F. Purcell From Hamilton, New Zealand. He was presented the medal by Bishop Denis Browne of The Diocese of Hamilton at St. Columba's Parish, Hamilton.
12 June 2010 Peggy Moriarty From the Bishop of Kerry, Dr. Bill Murphy, at the Milltown-Listry where Peggy is a parishioner. She received the award for the time spent looking after the Immaculate Conception in Listry, County Kerry, Ireland.
4 July 2010 John Wedgwood From the Parish of St. John the Baptist, in Normanton, West Yorkshire, England, for 72 years of service as organist, school headteacher and several other roles. The medal was presented by Canon Peter Maguire.
2010 Michael M.F. Kummer From Stuttgart, Germany, in recognition of his outstanding service over more than 25 years for the Catholic military communities in different countries and especially to the German-speaking parish, Sankt Marien, in Bangkok, Thailand.
12 August 2010 Sheila Miller, Elizabeth Turner, and Ann Hamilton During a mass held at St. Anthony of Padua, Rye, East Sussex, England. The medals were presented by Bishop Kieran Conry and were awarded in recognition of long and exceptional service to the Parish, stretching almost 80 years.
12 July 2010 Matthew Yu Min-Teh For his exceptional Christian commitment and leadership during his presidency at Providence University, Taichung, Taiwan. The medal was presented by the Bishop of Taichung, Martin Su Yao-Wen on 15 September 2010.
4 September 2010 Patricia Mundy and Joe Davies On behalf of the Bishop of Shrewsbury, England by Parish Priest Father Stephen Dwyer, assisted by Papal Knight Peter Smith K.S.G., who presented the medal. Joe Davies was awarded the medal for his years of devoted service to the priests of the parish; Patricia for her 19 years of service as a voluntary worker as Manager of Parish Centre and her years of Service to St. Joseph's Parish, Winsford in Cheshire.
7 November 2010 David Risk For years of dedication to the St. Charles Borromeo parish. The Medal was presented by Cardinal Mahony.
6 December 2010 Titus M. Verzosa For his 17 years of dedicated service and leadership as a choir director, a finance council member, and a coordinator of several fund raising events for St. Mary Queen of Apostles parish in Fresno, California, U.S.A. The medal and the accompanying certificate were presented to him on 20 February 2011 during a Sunday Mass by the parish priest Fr. Timothy N. Cardoza.
11 December 2010 Mary O'Donoghue It was presented on behalf of the Archbishop of Westminster, England by Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Holy Souls, Kensal Town, Father Shaun Church. It was awarded for years of dedication to the parish over 31 years.
27 December 2010 Miss Mary Burn-Murdoch Her work in founding the Colmcille Trust and establishing the Catholic House of Prayer Cnoc a' Chalmain on the Isle of Iona, Scotland. The medal was presented to Mary by Bishop Joseph Toal during Mass at St Joseph's, Gilmore Place, Edinburgh.
5 January 2011 Lady Nora Mai Daly From Gortdarrig, Headford, County_Kerry, Ireland for her 32 years as sacristan to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Catholic Church, Shrone. The Medal was presented by Bishop Bill Murphy at a vigil Mass at Shrone church. Fathers Larry Kelly & Michael O'Connor also presided.
8 January 2011 Mrs Anne Culleton From Piercestown in Wexford, Ireland, in recognition of a lifetime of contribution to community and parish life in Piercestown. The medal was presented to Anne by Bishop Dennis Brennan during Mass at St Martins Church in Piercestown on Sunday.
30 January 2011 Sr. Agnes Murray and Sr. Maura Fay From Ballymahon, Co Longford, Ireland in recognition of their contribution to music and singing in the liturgy over many years in the Parish of Shrule, (Ballymahon). The medals were presented to Sr. Agnes and Sr. Maura by the Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Dr. Colm O' Reilly during Mass at St. Matthew's Church, Ballymahon.
27 February 2011 Sheila Ratcliffe From Shaftesbury, Dorset in recognition of her outstanding contribution as Sacristan to the church of The Most Holy Name and St Edward King & Martyr in Shaftesbury for almost 30 years. The medal was presented to Sheila by Fr Dylan James after Mass.
17 April 2011 George M. Serban From Bakersfield, California, USA, in recognition of his outstanding dedication to "Faith, Family & Friends" in lifelong service to St. Francis Catholic Parish, Bakersfield California. Married to Rita M. Serban for more than 50 years they have served the Church with dedicated and unfailing love and self-sacrifice. The medal was presented to George by Msgr. Craig Harrison pastor on Passion Sunday Mass, in the presence of his entire family, children, grandchildren and great-grand child.
15 May 2011 May McGarrity From Oxford, in recognition of her contributions over 65 years as church organist and school governor. May started to play the organ aged 17 at St Patrick's Yoker, Glasgow and has been organist and choir mistress to Corpus Christi Church Headington, Oxford for over 50 years. She served as governor to St Joseph's RC School Oxford for 38 years. The medal was presented to May by Fr John Baggley after Mass.
10 July 2011 James Ward From Stoke-on-Trent, England in recognition of his lifelong work for the Church and the local community. Jim has served the community as a Justice of the Peace for more than 20 years and also as President of Newcastle Players (an amateur dramatic group). His service to the Catholic Community has included being organist at "Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent", for 40 years, and organising the annual Carol Service attended by the Lord Mayor since 1982. The medal was presented by Bishop David McGough, Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
2011 Margaret White Volunteer Sacristan to the chaplaincy team at Bethlem Royal Hospital, (Beckenham, SE London, United Kingdom). The medal was presented by Bishop Pat Lynch. A thanksgiving service was held at the Bethlem chapel for Margaret and was led by Bishop Lynch – the first ever Catholic Bishop to visit the Hospital. The Pope awarded Margaret the Benemerenti medal in recognition of her generous work and commitment to the Bethlem chapel over nearly 15 years.
2011 Mary Cavan Retired Office Assistant of the Knights of Saint Columba, Glasgow, in recognition of her 46 years loyal service to the Order.
17 December 2011 Mr Eugene Tumelty Recently retired as headteacher of St Bernard's School, Barrow, for over 30 years of service to Catholic education in St Berard's. The medal was awarded by Rev. William Glasswell at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Dalton-in-Furness.
20 December 2011 Jean McGuigan For her 49 years of dedicated and loyal service to the parishes of St. Joseph's and St. Patrick's in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The medal was awarded by Father Michael Sheehan, at St. Patrick's Church and was followed by a reception in her honour.
11 February 2012 Lyn Braithwaite From Palmerston North, New Zealand in recognition of her 58 years' devoted service to Our Lady Of Lourdes Parish. Medals were also presented to Judith and Martin Wall, who have loyally served the parish for 50 years. The presentations were by Bishop Peter J.Cullinane at Mass at Our Lady Of Lourdes Church on Saturday 11 February 2012 (appropriately, the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes). This was followed by a parish reception to mark their commitment, as well as the 60th anniversary of the parish and also the retirement of the bishop.
5 February 2012 John and Anna Feldberg From Rongotea, New Zealand, in recognition of long and exceptional service to the Rongotea Catholic community. The medals were presented by Bishop Peter J.Cullinane at Sacred Heart Church, Rongotea.
20 May 2012 Sheila Stacey From Markfield, Leicestershire, U.K., in recognition of her long service as teacher, governor and chair of governors (St Clare's R.C. primary school, Coalville, Leicestershire). The presentation was made at Mass at the parish church St Wilfrid of York, Coalville on Sunday 20 May (the feast of the Ascension), by headteacher Mrs Jane Monaghan and chair of governors Mrs Sarah Noon, with parish priest Fr Colin Patey.
29 April 2012 William (Bill) Cahill From Gloucester UK in recognition of his long service to the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Churchdown, Gloucester. The presentation was made after Mass by Father Kevin Hennessey, this was followed by a reception in the Church Hall afterwards.
24 June 2012 Giovanni-Battista Marseglia From Watford, Hertfordshire, U.K. in recognition of long service and contribution to the music ministry of the Parish of the Sacred Heart and St John the Evangelist, Bushey and the broader diocesan community. The presentation was made at Mass on the Feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, in a service concelebrated by Parish Priest Fr Jim McNicholas, his predecessors Fr Guy Sawyer and Fr Michael Markey and Chaplain to St Michael's Catholic High School Fr Uchenna Odenigbo.
21 July 2012 Paule Szczech From Wembley, Middlesex, U.K. in recognition of long service to the Parish of St Joseph's, Wembley. The presentation was made at Mass in a service concelebrated by Bishop John Arnold and Frs John Menonkari, Joseph Kaduthanam and Brito Fernandes.
8 September 2012 Lorenzo De Toro From Miami, Florida, U.S.A. in recognition of long service to the Church and the cause of a free Cuba. The presentation was made at Mass on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Charity in a service celebrated by Archbishop Thomas Wenski.
13 October 2012 John Craig, Nicholas Dawe and Richard Munt From Christchurch Consulting Company (New Zealand) for dedicated services to the Christchurch Catholic Community following the devastating earthquakes that occurred in the city (and region) of 2011 & 2012. Medals awarded by Bishop Barry Jones at Holy Mass in St Mary's Pro Cathedral, Christchurch.
25 November 2012 Elizabeth 'Lily' Farrell From Blanchardstown, Dublin, Republic of Ireland in recognition of long service to the Church. The presentation was made at Mass in St. Patrick's Church in Corduff.
13 December 2012 Christina 'Chrissie' Power From Partington, Manchester, United Kingdom in recognition of long service to the Church. The presentation was made at Mass in English Martyrs Church, in Manchester.
2012 Una O'Malley From Northampton, UK. Born in Carlow in the Republic of Ireland she moved to Northampton aged 18. The award was made to recognize 35 years loyal service as Housekeeper at the Bishops House and the Cathedral 1979 to 2014. The presentation was made at a full Mass in Northampton Cathedral by Bishop Peter Doyle.
13 January 2013 Teresa Aylott For services to the church, the community and charities. Pope Benedict XVI was represented by Bishop John Arnold at Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint George Church in Enfield, Middlesex, during the second Mass.
21 January 2013 Maura Cotter and Russell Luke From Immaculate Conception Parish, Oadby, Leicestershire, United Kingdom in recognition of long service to the Church. The presentation was made at the blessing of the newly renovated Immaculate Conception, Oadby parish rooms by Bishop Malcolm, 9th Bishop of Nottingham.
27 January 2013 Patrick J. (Paddy) Reardon From The Most Holy Redeemer, Billericay, Essex, England in recognition of his devotion to the Church and work for the community as a Most Holy Redeemer parishioner. The presentation was made at 11:00 am mass in Billericay by Father John.
2 February 2013 Peter Reynolds From Blanchardstown Parish, Dublin 15, Ireland in recognition of long service to the Church. The presentation was made at a special mass in Blanchardstown by Bishop Raymond Field.
26 May 2013 Catherine (Kate) Doody For services to the church and the community. The award was presented at St Ethelbert's Church in Slough. Pope Benedict XVI was represented by Bishop Peter Doyle.
26 May 2013 Madge Meehan For services to the church. The award was presented at St Ethelbert's Church in Slough. Pope Benedict XVI was represented by Bishop Peter Doyle.
Awarded by Pope Francis
Date Name Rationale
11 August 2013 Colleen Wilby In recognition for all that she had done and brought to the community in New Alresford in enhancing the music over the last 25 years. Colleen’s commitment has been considered to be truly extraordinary, and with the exception of two weeks holiday each year and the occasional family commitment she has played for every Sunday Mass, and at Christmas and Easter celebrations.
17 July 2014 Gerardine Babb For services to the Catholic church, community and education, in particular for her 12 years of service as Headteacher of St. William of York RC Primary School, Bolton.
10 January 2015 Dr. Charles Holland Wagamon, Sr. and Mrs. Marion Rose Holick Wagamon For 65 years of distinguished service and contributions to their Parish, Diocese, family, community and social justice, the Wagamons were formally presented their Benemerenti Medals during Mass by the Rev. Fred Valone, Pastor, St Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Huntsville, Texas.
7 February 2015 Julina Elizabeth Fowler (Lina) Patterson For long and dedicated service to the church and the community in Peebles in the Scottish Borders. The award was presented at St Joseph's Church in Peebles at the Vigil Mass on Saturday. Father Wojciech Rybka presented the award on behalf of Pope Francis.
19 April 2014 Lily Leacy For long and dedicated service to St. Aidan's Cathedral in Enniscorthy, Ireland. Presented by Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ferns, Denis Brennan at Saturday Vigil Mass, on behalf of Pope Francis.
23 November 2014 Mr. Manikrao K. Guldeokar From Amravati, India.
19 June 2015 Sheila Conway In recognition of her services to the Star of the Sea Parish, and to local charities, Sheila was formally presented with the medal during a special mass at The Star of the Sea church, Portstewart, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

The spokesman for the Diocese Father Edward Magee said: "This is recognition for the tremendous work and service that Sheila has given to both the church and the local community." [8] The service also celebrated the golden jubilee of the ordination of Bishop Anthony Farquhar.

25 August 2015 Alan Ginsburg Ginsburg was presented the medal "for his vision in creating a space where Catholic and Jewish students can fulfill their spiritual needs, side by side" at the University of Central Florida where he funded the construction of the Catholic Campus Ministry Center and the adjacent Hillel Center.[9]
20 November 2015 Margaret Keating Awarded for humble and quiet service to the parish and community of Castlemahon, Co. Limerick.
24 December 2015 Carole Ann Crowther Awarded for services to the young people of St Clare's Church, Fagley, West Yorkshire.

Leading the liturgy group on a Saturday evening and also preparing young people for their holy communion for over 20 years.

8 May 2016 Mary Sheppard Awarded for services to St George's Church, South Darenth, Kent.

Being sacristan, counsellor and friend for over 50 years

28 May 2016 Keyna Godward For long and dedicated service to the parish of Great Missenden and Wendover in Buckinghamshire.


  1. 1 2 Hyginus Eugene Cardinale. "Orders of Knighthood, Awards, and the Holy See." Edited and revised by Peter Bander van Duren. 3rd edition. Van Duren Publishing, Ltd., 1985. p. 94.
  2. The Catholic Herald 29 September 1939.
  3. Curtis, G.P.; Elder, B., eds. (1977). The American Catholic Who's Who. 21-23. NC News Service. p. 535.
  4. Catholic Almanac. NC News Service. 1977. p. 75.
  6. Lynch, John E. The Catholic Historical Review, Vol. 92, No. 2 , April 2006
  7. "Teresa "Temmy" Muchnik Rosenblum - Sabado Gigante' Host Don Francisco's Wife".
  8. Name of author - Unknown, "Papal honour for Portstewart woman", The Coleraine Times, 23 June 2015
  9. Heritage Florida Jewish News: "Jewish philanthropist receives papal honor" by LLinda Caldwell September 5, 2014
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