Rock of Ages Press Dante & Beatrice Lovers Candle Duo — That’s Amore!
Ask anyone to list the top five ways to set a romantic mood, and they’re bound to mention candles. But when the candles have a love story of their very own, it adds a fairytale element to the moment, a lyricism that intensifies the passion and electricity of the moment. Enter the Lovers Candle Duos from Rock of Ages Press, each of which consists of two 3″ votive candles, with each scented candle stamped with the image of a man or woman who was involved in a historic love affair. These are, in turn, tucked inside a black, slide-out box with the word “Flame” stamped across the top in metallic purple, cursive letters. Another great detail: a postcard with some information about the relationship of the lovers in question is tucked into each box. Three couples are currently being immortalized in this collection: Napoleon & Josephine, Dante & Beatrice, and Sha Jahan & Mumtaz Mahal.
The fact that Rock of Ages went beyond the trite, obvious couplings in literature and history, bypassing the Romeos and Juliets in favor of slightly more obscure pairs is beyond commendable. The elegant, vintage-looking packaging, of course, adds to the candles’ allure by creating a sense of reverence and awe. Each candle is poured in an opaque back ceramic container which features a black-and-white profile image of the lover in question. A textured, silver-colored oval rim surrounds the image at the center, creating the illusion of a framed portrait or of a cameo pendant.
I had the pleasure of sampling the Dante & Beatrice duo pictured at top, and I love looking at the candles and musing about the particulars of Dante’s undying affection for Beatrice, the way he tapped into this adoration to fuel his creative fire.
If you’ve read The Divine Comedy, you might recall Beatrice as the angelic woman guiding Dante through heaven, but this character was based on a flesh-and-blood person: Beatrice “Bice” di Folco Portinari. According to Dante, he first met Beatrice in 1274, when he was only nine years old. Beatrice made such an impression on Dante that he remained smitten with her throughout his lifetime. Perhaps most fascinating is the degree to which Dante’s love remained unrequited. Nine years elapsed between Dante’s first and second meeting with Beatrice, the latter consisting of a brief encounter on the streets of Florence in which Beatrice offered him a kind greeting. These two brief moments were sufficient to instill an undying love in Dante. After his second encounter with Beatrice, when he was only 18 years old, Dante almost immediately penned a sonnet in La Vita Nuova, published in 1293, in which he referred to Beatrice as a “Lady of Salutation” and bestowed savior-like qualities upon her. And, of course, in The Divine Comedy, he literally made her his guardian angel. Still, history suggests that the two never had a romantic dalliance outside of Dante’s imagination and silent longing — in fact, she married banker Simone dei Bardi in 1287 and died a mere three years later at the tender of age 24.
While the story of Dante & Beatrice is one of unrequited love, it’s far from a tragic tale. The admiration, respect, and awe with which Dante regarded Beatrice fulfilled him in such a way as to inspire his now seminal texts and inform his way of life.
The Lovers Candle Duo, then, celebrates this enduring, everlasting, reverent love. The candles feature a charming, fresh, crisp Italian fig scent that transports us to Florence, where this romance transpired. Aside from its Italian roots, the fig tree is the perfect scent choice for these candles as it’s a self-pollinating tree that needs no bees or pollinators to bear it fruit. Like Dante himself, tthen, his tree flourishes on it lonesome.
Rock of Ages Press Dante & Beatrice Lovers Candle Duo, $37. Available at ROApress.com