M14479.1-2 | Bell

Herman R. Ressler
1905, 20th century
28 x 22 x 24.5 cm
Gift of Herman R. Ressler
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Bell (3)
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Keys to History

The earliest know report of a bell ringing from the top of a Christian church dates from the 5th century. An Italian bishop hung a convex metal mould from the roof of his church and sounded it like a bell.

The use of bells in Christain churches became so widespread that in the 19th century almost every church in Montreal had one or more bells. The bells were the pride of the parish or congregation. So important were they that special fundraisers would be held in order to purchase new and better equipment. Sometimes the bells would be ordered from prestigious foundaries in Europe. With the bells safely installed in the belltower, the parishoners would celebrate, sounding their joy far and wide.

Bells played a particularly important role in the lives of Montrealers of the Catholic faith. In addition to announcing the angelus three times a day and for services of Holy Communion, the bells were rung at important religious services such as the funerals of public figures.

  • What

    The bell is made of brass with an iron clapper.

  • Where

    The bell comes from the church of the Sisters of the Congregation, which was demolished in 1905. The church was at the corner of Ste. Cecile and St. James Streets.

  • When

    This bell was cast in the 19th century.

  • Who

    The verger, or beadle, was the person responsible for ringing the bells at a church.