History of the Order of Constantine
Sigma Chi created the Order of Constantine in 1948 to recognize members who had performed outstanding service to the Fraternity in a manner the Founders would have commended. Similar in nature to the Fraternity’s Significant Sig Award, which recognizes brothers who have achieved outstanding distinction in their professional lives, the Order of Constantine recognizes those members who have undertaken exemplary service to the Fraternity. These are the brothers to whom longtime Grand Historian and 9th Grand Consul Joseph C. Nate, ILLINOIS WESLEYAN 1890, often referred to as the "eighth Founders." An inductee into the Order of Contantine is referred to as an Order of Constantine Sig.
The current insignia of the Order of Constantine consists of three items:
- The certificate of membership
- A personalized plaque
- A lapel pin
The certificate of membership indicates the recipient's name and the chapter at which he was initiated into the Fraternity. The certificate is signed by both the president and the secretary of the Order of Constantine. A duplicate copy is sent to the recipient's chapter following his induction.
The form of the certificate has remained unchanged since it was designed in 1948.
Prior to the creation of the Order of Constantine's personalized plaques, inductees were given an engraved medal. The medal was designed by the L. G. Balfour Company in 1948.
On the obverse was inscribed the words "The Order of Constantine Sigma Chi Fraternity" and carried the large #1 badge. The reverse side bore the wording "Awarded to (the name of the recipient) who has worn the White Cross in a manner the Seven Founders would have commended," and the year of presentation. The form of the Medal was first approved in 1950 and remained unchanged until the inception of the wooden wall plaques in 2008.
The lapel pin has been the subject of periodic redesign. Initially, the pin was based on the design of the pledge pin, the Norman Shield, in order to emphasize the heritage of the members of the Order. It took the form of a plain white cross on a light blue background with a circular gold perimeter adorned with laurel leaves. This pin made no reference to the Order of Constantine. Because of this, there was general agreement that it should be redesigned.
It was replaced by a seven-sided, gold-colored pin containing a plain white cross, with a double-circular perimeter surrounding the cross. The words "THE ORDER OF CONSTANTINE" were inscribed within the circle. Like its predecessor, it found little favor with the membership.
In 1976, Order of Constantine Sig and Significant Sig Dr. George H. Jones, LOUISIANA STATE 1942, who subsequently became 51st Grand Consul, and Grand Praetor and Order of Constantine Sig Jay E. Minton Sr., MISSOURI-COLUMBIA 1920, undertook to design a pin in the form of a small replica of the badge, fashioned from a silver dollar by Constantine Chapter founder Harry St. John Dixon, VIRGINIA 1861. The arch above the cross contained the words "THE ORDER OF CONSTANTINE". While they made no attempt to have this design authorized by the membership, they proceeded to order the L. G. Balfour Company to produce the dies and manufacture a few of these pins, which were produced in a variety of colors including a red, blue or white arch and a white- or gold-colored cross. Rather mischievously, they bestowed these upon their friends.
Significant Sig, Order of Constantine Sig and 43rd Grand Consul Bolon B. Turner, GEORGE WASHINGTON 1922, president of the Order of Constantine at that time, did not favor this design and commissioned other designs for consideration by the membership. Ultimately, the membership selected a circular design. In the center on a gold background was the coat of arms of the Fraternity, surrounded by gold laurel leaves. Above the coat of arms, around the perimeter of the pin on a blue background, were inscribed the words, "The Order of Constantine." Around the perimeter and below the coat of arms were the words "In Hoc Signo Vinces." By 1986, this design had lost favor with the membership.
That year, the membership voted to adopt the Jones/Minton design of 1976 as the official lapel pin of the Order. The dies were donated to the Order by the designers. The white cross design, as depicted here with either a white- or silver-colored arch, has been in use since that date and appears to continue to enjoy the approval of the Fraternity's membership.