The baptismal medal is a round gold or silver piece of jewelry traditionally given to a child on the day of their baptism. While it holds significant importance in the Christian tradition, choosing the right medal for a child can often be a topic of uncertainty. In this article, we will provide answers to all your questions about baptismal medals. Keep reading to discover what to engrave on the back of the medal and learn about the meaning behind different symbols commonly found on baptismal medals.
Why do we give a baptism medal?
Traditionally offered with a chain, the baptism medal symbolizes a child's entry into the Christian faith. The baptism medal holds a strong symbolic value as it is often the first piece of jewelry a child receives. In addition to its ceremonial aspect, the medal is a keepsake that the baptized individual will cherish for a lifetime. Its enduring nature is why the baptism medal is typically made from precious and durable metals such as gold or silver.
Who should give the baptismal medal?
According to tradition, it is usually the godfather and godmother who give the baptismal medal, along with the chain that goes with it, in consultation with the parents. However, in practice, the medal can be given by the parents themselves or by other people. The tradition of baptismal jewelry is relatively flexible.
What type of medal should you choose?
There are various types of baptism medals available, catering to different tastes and budgets. These medals come in different sizes and can be made of yellow gold, white gold, or silver.
On the front side of the medal, there is usually a representation of a saint or a figure. Most commonly, these symbols are powerful biblical figures such as the Virgin Mary or the Baby Jesus. However, it is also possible to depict secular symbols like a tree of life, a star, or a lamb, although this is less common.
There are no strict rules for choosing a baptism medal - it is usually a matter of personal preference. Similarly, there is no distinction based on the gender of the child - each symbol can be equally suitable for a girl or a boy.
What should be engraved on a baptism medal?
Traditionally, it is common to have the child's name engraved on the back of the baptismal medal. In addition to that, it is possible to add the date of birth or the date of baptism. While priests tend to advise adding the date of baptism, which is more symbolic, this choice remains very personal and should be up to the buyer and the parents. In some cases, a small personal message can also be engraved instead of the name, while still including the chosen date. Keep in mind, however, that the majority of medals have a diameter of 12mm to 25mm. Therefore, the message should be limited to around thirty characters, usually spread over two lines.
When to give a baptism medal?
It is possible to give the baptism medal before or during the baptism. Giving the medal earlier will allow the parents to see it in advance and the child to wear it on the day of the ceremony. However, the tradition is usually to give the baptism medal during the ceremony. This way, the godfather or godmother can personally place the jewelry around their godchild's neck, and the priest can then bless the medal.