St. Joseph Medal

The St. Joseph medal (commonly mistakenly referred to as a St. Christopher medal), appears in the film The Exorcist. It features an engraved picture of St. Joseph with Baby Jesus. It is inscribed with the Latin phrase, "Sancte Joseph ora pro nobis," which translates to "Saint Joseph pray for us".[1] There is a common misconception that the medal found by Father Merrin in Iraq and the one worn by Father Karras (and his mother) are one and the same, however, that is not necessarily the case. Many people have asked William Peter Blatty about it. William Friedkin's reason for adding the medal to the film was to "'add resonances' to the film". According to Blatty, instead of asking how the medal got from Iraq to Father Karras, people should really be asking "how a contemporary Christian medal got into an archaeological ruin from pre-Christian Nineveh in the first place." When Merrin finds the medal in Iraq, he speaks in Arabic and the English subtitles say "This is strange," however, in Arabic, he is actually asking "What's this doing here?" Blatty believed that this question would never be answered.[2]

Possible Meaning and Symbolism Edit

The St. Joseph medal has been the subject of many fan theories and there has been lots of speculation since the film's release in 1973. It is believed that the medals seen in the film are technically different, but look exactly the same. The theory is that it symbolizes/foreshadows the battle between good and evil that is to come later in the film. According to the commentary by William Friedkin, when Merrin finds the medal, along with the amulet, it is considered to be an omen and part of Merrin's premonition that he will have to fight Pazuzu again. He returns to the United States, knowing what is to come.[3] It is believed that the medal seen in Karras' dream further foreshadows this idea.[4] Lastly, when Regan rips the medal off Karras' neck at the end of the film, the belief is that Karras' protection from anything evil needs to be removed before the demon can enter his body.[5]

Notes and Trivia Edit

  • At the end of the film, Chris MacNeil offers to give the medal to Father Dyer, however, he tells her to keep it. This suggests that Chris, an athiest, is now open to faith.
  • Saint Joseph has many Patronages, but some of the most relevant to The Exorcist include: "against doubt", "children", "dying people", "families", "holy death", and "people in doubt".[6] This would make sense as Father Karras was suffering from a crisis of faith and got his faith back by his human love and compassion towards Regan, an innocent child. Karras sacrifices himself to save Regan by allowing the demon to possess him and then jumping out the window, down the stairs, to his death.

External LinksEdit

"Who was St. Joseph?"


  1. Mcdonagh, Maitland. "6 Things You Didn't Know About 'The Exorcist'". Sundance TV. Sundance TV LLC., 3 Dec. 2015. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
  2. Blatty, William Peter. "William Peter Blatty on 'The Exorcist': From Novel to Film". New York: Macmillan, March 2015. eBook.
  3. "The Exorcist (1973) - FAQ". IMDb., Inc., 1990-2017. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
  4. "I have a question about FR. Karras medallion". Captain Howdy, 7 Apr. 2008. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
  5. Dirks, Tim. "The Exorcist (1973)". Filmsite Movie Review. American Movie Classics Company LLC., 2017. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
  6. "Saint Joseph". CatholicSaints.Info. 3 Feb. 2017. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.