Around here, they're called the Voice of God. And that voice has been awfully quiet lately.
I am referring, of course, to the six bells in the two sandstone towers of the Archabbey Church here at Saint Meinrad -- the bells that not only mark each quarter hour, but also are rung by hand each day to summon monks and visitors to the Divine Office and Mass.
Some weeks ago, however, problems arose with the bells. A crack was discovered in Bell No. 6, the largest bell, which is housed in the church's north tower along with Bell No. 5. Upon inspection, it was determined that the other bells -- No. 5, as well as Nos. 1-4 in the south tower -- needed some preventive maintenance. So, work recently began on bells 1-5, with parts removed and taken elsewhere for repairs. Because of this, the familiar sound of the Archabbey bells echoing across the surrounding hills has been silenced. They have not been ringing for Office, Mass, or for the regular marking of time.
In addition, the cracked Bell No. 6, it was determined, must be removed from its tower and shipped to the original manufacturer in the Netherlands to undergo sophisticated repairs.
Today, with a good deal of effort and maneuvering, workers with the help of a large crane, were able to hoist the 5,000-pound bell out of the tower (it was a tight squeeze)! The photos along with this post illustrate what a tricky -- even dangerous -- task this was. For some even better photos (taken by our Development Office) click here.
|View from inside monastery courtyard.|
The hope is to have bells 1-5 back in place by Easter. Bell 6 will take longer. Then, it'll have to be hoisted back in place. In the meantime, we sure do miss them around here. The Voice of God, of course, carries on as always -- but it helps to also keep an eye on the clock these days!