Thursday, April 10, 2008


The song of bells is symbolic also. We have all kinds of bells and calls that mean different things. The number and nature of the bells may effect the exact nature of the symbol in any particular parish, but the basic ideas remain the same.

There are two types of bell sounds. There is the toll when a bell is struck as it stands still and the peel, the bell swinging back and forth as the clapper hits the sides.

The toll is most commonly associated with death. The lowest bell is struck once approximately every fifteen seconds or so. But it also an essential part of the Angelus, a prayer that us said at six in the morning, noon, and six in the afternoon. There are three slow tolls during which the first part of the prayer is said. This process repeats three times for the first three parts of the prayer. Following this there is a general peeling of one or more bells during which the last part of the prayer is prayed.

Most parishes ring a bell just prior to mass as a signal to stop talking in the parking lot and get into Church. Many places distinguish between a weekday mass and Sunday mass (or wedding or other remarkable events) by the number of bells that are rung.

Sometimes bells are symbolic by their silence most notably after the Gloria on Maundy Thursday. The bells ring during the Gloria and then fall silent as we commemorate the Passion and Death of Our Lord, not to ring again until we commemorate His Resurrection at the Great Easter Vigil.

To be continued. . .


January* Holy Name of Jesus
February Holy Family
March* Saint Joseph
April Blessed Sacrament
May* Blessed Virgin Mary (Bet you all got that one)
June* Sacred Heart
July* Precious Blood
August* Immaculate Heart
September* Our Lady of Sorrows
October* Holy Rosary
November* Poor Souls
December* Immaculate Conception

* Denotes months that had indulgences attached to them.

And the days of the week:

Sunday Holy Trinity
Monday Holy Spirit
Tuesday Holy Angles
Wednesday Saint Joseph
Thursday Holy Eucharist
Friday Sacred Passion
Saturday Blessed Virgin Mary


Adoro said...

In looking at all the months laid out like that, and then the days of the week, I realized that I knew the connections.

Anonymous said...

Are the holy angles acute or obtuse?

Fr. V said...

After you read them many become obvious don't they?

Rob - LOL - my Mom used to ask me that all the time since I had a propencity to spell angels angles.

Anonymous said...

They do.

Oh, and of course, seeing the progressions of the months, too...January, February, March....did you know that July comes after June? LOL!

In reading my earlier comment, well I could have been more specific in how I phrased things.

Melody K said...

Bells also used to be given names; I don't know if they still do that. The bells in our church are named Johannes and Antoninus; "Big John" and "Little Tony". The tolling mechanism had to have a makeover after Pope John Paul II died; the bells were tolled for once for each of the years of his life. All that tolling took its toll!

Anonymous said...

The Nine Tailors is a great detective story by Dorothy Sayers which has bell ringing as an important theme.