Church Bells

The ringing of bells to make joyful noise for the Lord and to announce God’s presence is an ancient tradition of the Catholic Church.

The use of bells can be found in the liturgical practice of the Old Testament where God directed that the Jewish high priest wear bells on his vestments.

Large bells in the Catholic church belltowers were initially rung to call monks to worship and were later used to invite the faithful to Mass. Church bells have also marked times for novenas or prayers such as the Angelus.

Eventually, the bells were rung during the liturgy at the consecration of the bread and wine to emphasize the miracle that was taking place. This way, even those who could not attend Mass could pause for reflection and prayer.

The use of bells in the liturgy became mandatory at the Council of Trent. With the Second Vatican Council they became optional and their use depends on the local custom.

For practical purposes, handheld sanctus bells eventually became used more often during Mass and systems were developed so that the large bells could play hymns and carols throughout the day.

Reminding that we are called:

The call of the bells:

Evangelical, spiritual, and practical:

At the hem at the bottom you shall make pomegranates, woven of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine linen twined, with gold bells between them; a gold bell, a pomegranate, a gold bell, a pomegranate, all around the hem of the robe. Aaron shall wear it when ministering, that its sound may be heard as he enters and leaves the LORD’s presence in the sanctuary; else he will die.

Exodus 28: 33-35

Playing hymns with a carillon:

The voice of the church:

Witnessing every day to the joy of the Risen Lord means always living in “a paschal mode” and causing to ring out the Good News that Christ is neither an idea nor a memory of the past, but a Person who lives with us, for us and in us, and with him, for him and in him we can make all things new.

Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 27 April 2011

Signaling the presence of Jesus:

Four times that the bells might be heard at Mass:

The use of bells depends on the custom of each parish:

Certain blessings have a lasting importance because they consecrate persons to God, or reserve objects and places for liturgical use. Among those blessings which are intended for persons – not to be confused with sacramental ordination – are the blessing of the abbot or abbess of a monastery, the consecration of virgins and widows, the rite of religious profession and the blessing of certain ministries of the Church (readers, acolytes, catechists, etc.). The dedication or blessing of a church or an altar, the blessing of holy oils, vessels, and vestments, bells, etc., can be mentioned as examples of blessings that concern objects.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1672

Praying with the bells:

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

Tangible expressions of faith:

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