Cathedral reinstalls historic bells Wednesday


400-THOMAS-S-WILLISFour bells dating back to the 17th century were removed from the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine in August of last year; Father Tom Willis tells Historic City News that, weather permitting, they will be returned to their niches during the evening hours on Wednesday, April 24.”

At least one lane of Cathedral Place will be closed to traffic during the installation process as the bells are put in place above the massive Cathedral doors, and once again made operable.

“These bells include the oldest bell still in use in the United States of America,” Willis said. “It is dated 1689 and most likely came from the small mission church that used to be on the property of what is now Tolomato Cemetery.”

The I.T. Verdin Company of Cincinnati, Ohio refurbished the bells and provided new electronics and clappers so that they could ring once again, Willis told reporters.

A Latin inscription on the oldest bell reads, “Saint Joseph, pray for us.”

A second bell has the date of 1789 and most probably originates from Spain. The church was built with money from the Spanish monarchy in the 1790’s.

Willis told Historic City News that, while they have no inscribed date, it is more than likely they were manufactured during the same period as the church’s construction.

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