The bells with their festive ringing always call us to the church. In ancient times, the bell was the signal and sound to communicate. There was a way of ringing which is called tocsin for announcing an imminent danger, with a quick and steady touch. Then there is the sound to announce a deceased in the village. There is also the festive ringing, more cheerful, where we use all the bells. There is also a ringtone to ward off bad weather, because they thought that this sound would make the possible storm vanish. And many other ways to ring the bells. In the village of my family, we continue to ring the bells for Mass, three times with an interval of 15 minutes: the first, the second and the third. In many countries and in almost all cities, this tradition is gradually disappearing.
In countries of Muslim religion or majority, it is the muezzin who calls for prayer from the minaret, or tower that is found in all mosques. The famous Giralda of Seville was part of a Muslim minaret transformed into a Christian tower with its bells to call Christian worship.
In the Basilica of Mount Carmel, we have four bells. The first was given by the Venerable Definitory General of Rome to the convent of Mount Carmel. The second was a gift from the Discalced Carmelite Sisters of Lisieux. The third is a gift from Discalced Carmelite Sisters of Haifa. Then the chronicler tells us: “… they are ringing with their clear notes, making us remember the first bells that were heard in the past in the Holy Land, which rang from the tower of Mount Carmel”. The bells were placed before the 1931 General Chapter held on Mount Carmel.
This morning, I went to see the inscription of the fourth bell, I saw that it was written Ferdinando II Sicil, that means, it was given by King Ferdinando II. In addition, on page 479 of P. Florent’s book, `Mount Carmel`, we can read : “Very little people know that the bells of Carmel were the first to be heard in Palestine after the fall of the Holy Land, because until ‘in 1835, you could not ring the bells’. They were two bells; the largest is at the bell tower. We know that the founder was Pasquale Danisi from Naples and was founded in 1837 in the Royal Foyer de Polveri (Naples).
The others three bells were manufactured by P. Marinelli and son. (Agnone-Campobasso, Italy). Agnone is famous throughout the world for the presence of the Marinelli foundry, a factory for manufacturing bells for churches. The Marinelli foundry has a history of great importance: it was created in 1040 and gradually became the most famous bell factory in the world. The statement is confirmed by the fact that it has been declared a “Pontifical Marinelli Foundry” and can print the Vatican State stamp on its bells since 1924.
As a legendary event, , the bells of Carmel rang by themselves in 1837 on the death of Fr. Honorio de Santa Teresa, who had been the General Superior of the Order and who had been very interested in the reconstruction of the church and convent of Mount Carmel. The bells rang by themselves on October 12, 1837. Date that coincided with the death of that Father. Legend or not, we can remember the existence of these bells which continue today to call to prayer on the most important days of the Order.
Fr Óscar I. Aparicio Ahedo, ocd.