Cathedral finally gets to ring the bells

Parramatta Diocese hopes to install the new peal of bells by mid-2020 (Catholic Outlook)

The single bell in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, will soon be joined by eight bells to form a peal that has been 165 years in the making. Source: Catholic Outlook.

Ranging in weight from 150 to 450 kilograms, the new bells will be installed in a "ring" in the tower of the historic cathedral.

Six of the bells are over 100 years old and were sourced from St Paul’s Anglican Church in Widnes, a suburb of Liverpool in England. An additional two bells, including the tenor bell, were newly cast at John Taylor Bell Foundry in Leicestershire, England.

Together, the eight bells were tuned into an octave in the key of A Major at Matthew Higby & Co. in Bath, England.

The blessing and subsequent installation of the bells will be a crowning moment in the reconstructed life of St Patrick’s Cathedral after a devastating fire in 1996 saw it destroyed and then rebuilt in a striking modern design by architect Romaldo Giurgola. The new cathedral, incorporating part of the old sandstone church, was dedicated in 2003.

Talk of raising a set of bells in St Patrick’s dates to 1853, when the second St Patrick’s church was remodelled to accommodate 600 parishioners, twice as many as the first church. But this enlarged church would never realise its peal of bells.

By 1904, a single bell named after St Patrick was hung in the spire to commemorate Monsignor Rigney, who was parish priest of Parramatta from 1874 to 1889.

In 1904, “Patrick” was blessed by Archbishop Michael Kelly, fourth Archbishop of Sydney, in the grounds of the presbytery where it was temporarily housed.

The bell remained in place for 92 years until the fire of 1996 destroyed the cathedral. Stranded in the charred ruins of the tower, the bell was removed for storage, cleaning and conservation.

After the completion of the new cathedral in 2003, the large bell was once again hung in the spire. At noon each day “Patrick” calls the faithful to prayer when it rings out with The Angelus.

The bell’s solitary toll will now be joined by the eight "singing" bells in early to mid-2020.

Details: Bells of St Patrick's Appeal

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St Patrick’s Cathedral to receive peal of bells (Catholic Outlook)

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