The Missions Bells

Restoration of the Mission Bells

The New Bell Tower
The New Bell Tower – 1980

 

History

On August 22, 1887 two bronze bells, cast in France and transported to St. Albert courtesy of the Canadian Pacific Railway, arrived to join one which had come in 1874. All three were gifts to Bishop Grandin by the Very Reverend Canon René Alexandre Marie Piron of Le Mans, France.

 

Wooden Belfries
Wooden Belfry c. 1900-1957

For over 80 years the bells hung in a series of temporary wooden belfries. In 1957, on the belief that one or more of the bells was cracked, the historic bells were retired and exhibited as artefacts in a small stone display southwest of the church, their yokes and clappers removed. The familiar sound which had flowed over the community was then replaced by the chimes of an electronic carillon operated from the church organ. A new brick tower attached to the front façade of church was built to house the carillon’s external speakers.

 

 

 

 

Stone Display  – 1957-1980

Restoration

In 1980 the St. Albert Historical Society had the bells examined and they were found not to be cracked as previously thought but simply out of tune. With funding obtained through the province’s 75th anniversary program, as well as generous community donations, the bells were transported to Quebec to be reconditioned and equipped with electric motors. The renovated bells were installed in a new bell tower and, on September 1, 1980, their joyous sounds were once again heard throughout St. Albert.

 

 

Brick Tower
Brick Tower – 1957

Calling the Community

Historically, the sound of church bells is considered to be their “voices,” not only calling the community to worship but also singing its joys, crying its sorrows and alerting it to emergencies. Consequently, church bells have been blessed, given names and have sponsors, with the information recorded in the parish’s baptismal record.

 

Each of the St. Albert Mission bells is inscribed in French and Latin, translated as follows.

 

Bell to the east            I was given to Bishop Grandin, Bishop of St. Albert in British North America courtesy of Rev. M. Piron, Pastor of Aligne Chapel in the Diocese of Le Mans, Canon Vicar of St. Albert, member of the Academy of Arcadia. I was blessed at Le Mans by the Bishop of St. Albert and named Vitaline Jeanne Adèle Alexandrine by the same and by Mrs. Adèle Latouche née Lepeltier, 1874

 

           Boillée and Sons Foundry and Tuning, Le Mans

 

Bell in the centre        This bell, intended to accompany the one given to the St. Albert Cathedral in 1874, was named Caroline Renée Justine by the Very Reverend René Alexandre Marie Piron, Vicar General of St. Albert, Canon of the renowned Basilica of St. Nicholas of Urbe, member of the Academy of Arcadia, author of the complete course in literature, pastor of Aligne Chapel (Le Mans) etc. and by Miss Caroline Benoist. Blessed at Aligne Chapel in May, 1887 by Bishop Grandin.

 

           The Most High sent forth His voice (Ps XVII 14)

Mighty is the voice of the Lord! Majestic is the voice of the Lord. (Ps XXVIII 4)

 

Courtesy of the Very Reverend Canon Piron, Vicar-General

 

Cast by Viel-Tétrel at Villedieu, Manche

 

 

 

Bell to the west          I was named Alexandrine Vitaline Catherine Clémence by the Very Reverend René Alexandre Marie Piron, Canon of the renowned Basilica of St. Nicholas of Urbe, member of the Academy of Arcadia, author of the complete course in literature, pastor of Aligne Chapel (Le Mans) etc. and by Mrs. Catherine Nani, widow of Arcangelo Onesti, and intended by the sponsor for the Edmonton church. Blessed in May, 1887 at Aligne Chapel by Bishop Grandin, Bishop of St. Albert.

 

Evening and morning and at noon I will speak and declare. (Ps LIV 18)

Let thy voice sound in my ears; for thy voice is sweet (Canticle II 14)

 

Cast by Viel-Tétrel at Villedieu, Manche