Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Bells of St Pelagius

The parish church in Novigrad is St Pelagius. There are at least two other catholic churches in town. I have not seen any other denomination anywhere in Croatia.

A bit of history...Pelagius was a Christian boy left by his uncle at the age of ten as a hostage in trade for a clerical relative previously captured by the Moors. The Caliph offered him his freedom if he would convert to Islam. The boy, having remained a pious Christian, refused the Caliph's offer. As a consequence, he was murdered/martyred in the year 926AD. The church in Novigrad was the first Croatian church to venerate Pelagius as a Saint.

Many of you will remember that Sandy and I have had our differences with church bells. Well, the St Pelagius bell is an exception. For one thing, it is sonorous and has a nice timbre, even though it is pretty loud.

The other thing is it isn't rung every hour and half hour throughout day and night. When it is rung (by person or by mechanics, we don't know), it can be for a minute or many as 60 as bongs.

And, it is only rung at 7:00am (8:00 on Saturday and Sunday); at 12:00pm noon; at 5:00pm (for obvious reasons); and at 7:45pm and 8:00pm...the latter two, for calling people to evening mass.

On October 31, Monday, we were confused when the bells rang at 8:00 instead of 7:00. When we ran to catch a bus scheduled for 14:15 and it didn't arrive until 15:00, we realized clocks had been set back an hour on the previous Saturday night just as we do in the fall.

Of course, on Sunday there is a ringing at 10:45am for mass and immediately after mass (this last, to probably make those folks who missed mass feel guilty). All-in-all, it is an understandable and reasonable system.

On the other hand, we could never figure out why a bell would ring at night when most people are sleeping or, at least, trying to; nor how to know if it's 12:30, 1:00, or 1:30, all with a single bong unless you check your watch.

We will listen for other ringing times of St Pelagius' bell. There must be some exceptions. Tonight, Sunday October 30 (Halloween?) might be the first exception. At 9pm, there were 94 bongs. Maybe warding off the the ghosts.

Today, November 1, All Saints Day, is another major exception. At 10:45 the bells (three of them, each a different tone, not just one as usual) rang for at least five minutes. We won't be here for Christmas, but that must be the most impressive ringing.

1 comment:

  1. I am really enjoying traveling vicariously with you. What an adventure! The history lessons are great! Thinking of you and picturing just where you are. Our time change will be this Sat. -- the day after your son is another year older!!! Take Care...til next time! Love you guys!