The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Easy does it

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 crane sat on the valley side of the church (the back). Ordinarily, it would have been placed on the lawn near the monastery on the north side of the church (visible from the guest house). However, that was no longer possible because of the recent monastery renovations; our geothermal field systems for the monastery's heating and cooling are laid under that lawn. As a result, the crane had to be positioned on much lower ground, farther away, and extended out more than normal to lift the bell out of its tower.

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!


  1. That has to be tough for you all, the bells are such a part of your everyday life, you notice them yet you don't, until they are gone!

  2. gaudeamus igitur is difficult without of the unexpected blessings at Purdue is that we hear the St Tom's bells all over campus...

  3. So true, John. And Michael -- difficult yes, impossible no.

    Thank you both.

    Br. Francis