The Bell Tower

The bell towerBells were known in China before 2000 BC and in Egypt, India, Greece, Rome, and other ancient cultures. From earliest times they were used as signalling devices, as ritual objects, and as magical, often protective, amulets (Hung In doorways or around the necks of animals). The use of the bells in the Churches spread through Europe in the 6th to 11th centuries, and they were first used in eastern Christian Churches In the 9th century. The Church first used a small bell of the Sanctus, and later to mark other solemn parts of the Mass. Another bell hanging in a turret announced file Elevation to those within earshot outside the Sanctuary.

There were bells to announce high and low Mass, the Angelus, birth and death, wedding and feast, fire and flood, to warn of enemies or pestilence, to appease the storm, to call to work, and to cover the fires for the night. The bells In the New World developed first In the abbeys of Europe; parish churches almost simultaneously adopted bells. Catholic churches In the New World, however have been slow to accept them.

In our Seminary we have three bells with different names; St Mary, St Peter, St Gabriel and they play a song of joy and praise to the Lord and to his creation.

The bells of the Seminary Tower play their part in the New evangelisation or announcement of the kerygma of Jesus Christ. They ring out at nine in the morning, midday and six in the evening each day. The computer-controlled bells ring three peals three times and finish with nine peals. This is the traditional call to pray the Angelus, a prayer which celebrates the announcement of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she will conceive and give birth to a son, Emmanuel, “God with us”!

One man who had left the Church for many years, when he heard the bells ringing out the Angelus was moved to pray and has since returned to the Church.

A young woman, whose home is in the shadow of the bell tower, asked for the bells to be rung when she left home to go to the Church to be married. The bells can play many different melodies. The bells heralded a young groom as he was leaving home to be married.

The husband of another couple asked for the bells to be a surprise for his wife on their wedding anniversary.

At midday on Sundays the bells ring out different melodies for an interval of ten minutes proclaiming the Lord’s Day – Sunday.

When the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II’s funeral began in Rome, the bells marked the occasion by being rung solemnly twelve times.