Sep 20, 2011 at 11:34 am
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KNSI) - After more than a decade of silence, the sound of tolling bells is returning along the east shore of the Mississippi River through St. Cloud.
More than a century after it was presented and erected for the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict and over 10 years after it was taken down, a public blessing and ringing ceremony will be held Tuesday for the restored bell and new bell tower on the grounds of St. Scholastica Convent on 20th Avenue Southeast in St. Cloud.
"It has a wonderful sound to it," Order spokeswoman Colleen Hollinger-Petters said.
The ornate 1,200 pound bronze bell was originally crafted in 1906 and donated to the Order. The bell was placed across the Mississippi from St. Cloud Hospital, outside the former site of the Order's "other" St. Cloud hospital St. Rafael, which closed in 1899.
The sisters used the bell three times a day, calling their members to prayer. However, over the years, the bell eventually fell into disuse, Hollinger-Petters said.
"The city of St. Cloud had promised a bridge across the Mississippi, but that bridge was never built. That bell had been hanging there ever since until it was put into storage," Hollinger-Petters said.
Hollinger-Petters said the Order took down the bell in 2000, but it was always intended to return -- someday.
"They brought it down with the hopes that it would eventually go back, but it's a really heavy bell. It's half a ton. So they had to have a special structure established for it and there just weren't the funds to put toward that," Hollinger-Petters said.
Years after its removal, however, former St. Cloud residents and students of St. Benedict instructors Donald and Marion Hall decided the bell needed to return. The Halls, who now live in Minneapolis, contributed the money to have the bell shipped to Cincinnati and fully restored to its original glory.
Meanwhile, the Halls also paid for a new bell tower on the grounds of Saint Scholastica Convent to give the bell a proper home. The convent is now a retirement and assisted living facility for Saint Benedict sisters.
The bell has even been outfitted with some of the best of modern technology, Hollinger-Petters said. "The bell has been set with an electric clapper so no one actually has to go out into a snow bank and pull on a rope anymore," Hollinger-Petters said.
The blessing and bell ringing was open to the public beginning at 3 p.m. Tuesday.