Special to the Press
BRISTOL- Something was in the air recently that has not been heard in over 30 years; the ringing of bells from St. Anthony Church.
The bells had not been rung since sometime in the 1970s, said Rev. Alphonso Fontana. The church decided to bring them back because they are a “long standing Christian tradition.”
Ringing the bells has had “a very positive impact. People have been contacting the directory … to tell us they really enjoy it,” said Fontana. For older churchgoers, “it brings back memories.”
The bells are rung every day at noon and 6 p.m. in remembrance of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary she would be the mother of Christ.
The bells serve as a “reminder of the birth of Christ,” Fontana said.
The church also rings the bells 10 minutes before Mass on Saturday night and the two Masses on Sunday morning to call worshipers to church. They are rung for funerals and weddings as well.
According to Fontana, years ago the bells were rung to cast out demons and bless the area. Back in medieval times, someone had to manually ring the bells, while today they’re set on an automatic timer.
One of the oldest bell companies in the country, Verdin Bells & Clocks, which has been in business since 1842, renovated the bells so they could be used again.
St. Anthony Church will be merging with St. Ann Church to form a new parish called St. Francis de Sales in the near future.