The Bells of St. Mary's


The three bells in St. Mary of the Angels bell tower are inscribed "cast by Stuckstude & Bro. St. Louis, MO 1895". The largest bell is 48 and 3/4" in diameter with the following inscription:





In Honorem in Sanctae Elizabeth
(In honor of Saint Elizabeth)
D.D. Elizabeth Peter





The second and third bells are parallel to each other in their placement in the tower, and are pictured at the right. The second bell is 37 and 3/4 inches in diameter with the following inscription:



B.V. Mariae
DE PERPETUO SUCCURSEE
(Blessed Virgin Mary of Perpetual Help)



The third and smallest bell pictured to the far right is 31 and 3/4 inches in diameter and is also inscribed:


IN HONOREM S.S. ANGELORUM
(In honor of all the Angels)




According to the information provided by Brosamers Bells at http://www.brosamersbells.com/church.html, the bell size determines it's pitch or tone and also it's weight. Therefore, the following would apply to our three bells:

49 inches= key of E =2300 lbs.
37 inches= key of A =1000 lbs.
31 inches= key of B = 600 lbs.

The bells were brought from St. Louis by horse and wagon and Wien history tells that the largest bell tumbled off the wagon, but was not harmed.

After the bells were installed, the Wien people were used to hearing the Franciscans ring them three times a day for the Angelus, which is a prayer dedicated to Mary, and said in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. (The history of the Angelus can be found at www.newadvent.org/cathen/01486b.htm and at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01487a.htm".) The famous painting by Jean-Francais Millet was one that many of the parishioners at Wien displayed in their homes. The bells of St. Mary's also rang to gather people together for Sunday Mass. They were tolled solemnly when someone died and the number of tolls indicated the age of the deceased.

After the Franciscans left Wien in 1914, the ringing of the Angelus was not as consistent, but different parishioners took over the task of ringing the bells for Mass and for funerals. I believe that the bells were also rung on other important occasions, and I am hoping that the Wien Detective will soon come up with those facts so I can share them with you.

Stories also abound regarding the mischievious activities of the altar boys who were assigned to ring the bells for Mass. Since the bells are very heavy, it takes several pulls on the rope before the bells actually ring and the boys quickly found out that they would be pulled high in the air as the bells went through the full cycle. I understand that some of the youngsters tried to swing high enough to put their feet on the ceiling of the vestibule--only to be disciplined by the sisters when caught in the act!!

We'll see what other stories abound!







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