Friday, May 21, 2010


There is another object besides the ombrillino that helps mark a building a basilica. It is a staff with a bell on it called a Tintinnabulum. I’ve actually only ever seen one of these in Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica in New York. If you click here and take the pictorial tour of the front of the shrine and click on #3, you will see a picture of the tininnabulum. According to the shrine’s own website, “The tintinnabulum is a small gold bell mounted on a six-foot pole with a golden frame crowned with the papal tiara and keys. If the Pope was to say Mass within the Basilica, the tintinnabulum would be used to lead the very special procession down the shrine's aisle.” Today we would have an announcer, “Please stand and open your hymnals to number 5463” or some such thing. Not having sound systems for the entire 2000+ year history of the Church and someone standing at the door shouting, “HEY! HEADS UP! THE POPE IS HERE!” the bell helped people know when he was coming and where to look.


Anonymous said...

the basilica is in Lackawanna NY, Father

bob kraus

Jacobitess said...

This blog has become newly dangerous, as I nearly spat out all of my coffee on reading that hilarious title!

Technology over aesthetics, though...that is a very wistful subject. :(

Everytime I enter a beautiful church (a common thing in Poland) and see a great pulpit midway down the aisle, embellished with the four evangelists, aloft, and ingeniously positioned where all seated in the cruciform church can see, I could weep that during Mass the priest will simply walk over to that dinky little podium and speak through the microphone.