The Zippo Constantine is one of the hundreds of beautiful custom designed lighters made by the Zippo Manufacturing Company in its 77 year history. The Zippo Company has made custom lighter cases representing thousands of different subjects over the years. Some of the subjects have been Hollywood celebrities, sports, animals, musicians, bands, military heroes, military insignia, good luck signs, funny sayings and promotional lighters for individual companies. All these cases and many, many more have graced the more than 400,000,000 Zippo lighters sold since 1933.
The Zippo Constantine lighter got its name because the lighter case is made in the style of the Byzantine art from the era of the Emperor Constantine. The case is available in four different types of metal: brass, silver, copper and gold leaf. It is covered with an intricate design that mimics the detailed carved filigree combined with the religious themes common to Byzantine art.
The Zippo Constantine case is a replication of the medallion of Saint Benedict. Saint Benedict was the founder of the Benedictine order of monks. He created the Rule of Benedict which was a treatise on not only the right way to live as a monk spiritually but also the right way to live within a religious community and how religious communities should live with the outside secular community. These monks were known for their simple, pious way of life. Their example of simple devotion, hard work in the fields and the practice of sharing the virtues of education in the arts and sciences won them many converts. Long before the Reformation led by Martin Luther, the Benedictines lived in self-governing communities and acknowledged only one monastic leader, the Pope.
There is an interesting aspect of the Saint Benedict medallion and, therefore, the Zippo Constantine. Although it is beautifully elegant, especially when it is rendered in gold or copper, its message is very simple.
One side of the lighter case shows a picture of St. Benedict with a shepherd’s crook. This picture represent him as a simple shepherd caring for his flock. It emphasizes his belief and devotion to an uncomplicated and non-material way of life. The other side of the Zippo Constantine lighter has a elaborately engraved cross. The cross is has a circle around it. Letters in a script style that evokes Byzantine art cover the circle and the cross. The letters represent the initial letters of Latin words. The words for the four Latin phrases identify the cross and present Benedictine philosophy in a clear and succinct way.
The four phrases are:
• Crux Sancti Patris Benedict – Cross of Holy Father Benedict.
• Crux Santa Sit Mihi Lux – May the Holy Cross be my light.
• Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux – Let not the Dragon be my guide
• Vade Retro, Satana. Nunquam Suade Mihi Vana; Sunt Mala Quae Libas; Ipse Venena Bibas – Begone, Satan and suggest not to me thy vain things; the Cup thou offer me is evil; drink thou thy poison.
The medallion and lighter case make the simple injunction that all people should follow the precepts of the Christian Church and not be seduced by the wiles and attractive vanities of the Devil. The Zippo Constantine is not only a high quality gemlike lighter but a simple life guidepost in elegant filigree gold.
By Sam V C
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