TRADITION. All year round, the ringing of the bells punctuates the life of the Bragards, according to a well-oiled ritual. But as Easter approaches, they remain silent for a few days. Between legend and liturgy, the Jhm explains everything about church bells.
They provoked many parochial quarrels, without pun intended, between the mayors and the priests. And for good reason. Since the law of 1905, the two authorities share the operation of church bells. “There are civil bells, which mark the hours and sometimes quarters of an hour, and religious bells”, explains Father Loic De Clock. And on the liturgical level, they have their very specific language. In their ringing, as in their silences, on the occasion of the Easter celebrations in particular.
“From Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday, we stop them,” says Father Loïc. “It is a sign of mourning, to evoke the death of Christ. » In Christian tradition, Maundy Thursday marks the day of the Last Supper, this last meal of Jesus with his apostles before his death, during which he would have shared his “body” and his “blood” as a sign of the bond between God and Men. The bells are not heard again until three days later, on the night of Saturday to Easter Sunday, to celebrate his resurrection.
“From Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday, we stop the bells. It is a sign of mourning, to evoke the death of Christ. »
Father Loic De Clock
“They say they left for Rome,” adds Father Loïc, referring to this popular tradition that wants them to travel to Rome, where they are blessed by the Pope, before returning loaded with chocolate eggs that ‘they spill on the way in the gardens and on the balconies.
When the bells ring masses, angelus and ceremonies
From this Easter Sunday, they therefore resume their normal operation. Starting with the call to Sunday Mass. “On Sunday mornings, the bells are rung to call Christians to mass. It is a real landmark for believers. Moreover, the day we forget it, the parishioners tell us! insists Father Loïc. The bells also ring on celebration days: at full speed for baptisms and weddings, in the form of a death knell for funerals. “This allows us to say what is going on at that time in the church. »
Every day the bells also ring for the Angelus. “Three times a day, morning, noon and evening, to call the faithful to pray to the Virgin Mary. They sound three spaced shots, then a volley of one minute. It is a heritage of the monasteries, where prayer takes place five times a day”, specifies Father Loïc.
At Notre-Dame, for example, there are five bells suspended in the bell tower. “There hasn’t been a ringer for a long time,” concludes Father Loïc. “We have an electronic programmer that strikes the hours and the Angelus automatically. And for ceremonies, it can be operated manually. An automation that also makes it possible to ring the bells for very special occasions, as was the case on March 25, 2020, at 7:30 p.m., for ten minutes. This was to pay tribute to the work of caregivers in the face of the Covid-19 epidemic.