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Cathedral bell are silent due to cracked yokes

Associated Press

ST. PAUL -- The bells at the Cathedral of St. Paul have been silent for about a month, and they are expected to stay that way until the holiday season because the metal yokes that support them are cracking.

The five bells, which can be heard in much of the city, usually ring each day on the quarter-hour and they call people to weekend worship.

"We've been told not to ring the bells, not to do anything until the situation is fixed, or something bad could happen," said Alan Spillers, spokesman for the cathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

"We haven't had any complaints, but people are starting to notice that the bells are not ringing," Spillers said. "They notice something is missing."

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Mary Gibson, a cathedral receptionist and parishioner, said she's gotten calls about the silence.

"We've got bell groupies, apparently. They might be parishioners, or they may be interested neighbors," she said.

The bells typically ring every 15 minutes, and the Angelus -- a traditional call to prayer for the devotion of Mary -- sounds at noon and 6 p.m. In deference to the church's neighbors, the bells are not sounded between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m.

The bells' cracks, which Spillers described as visible, were noticed in August during routine maintenance. Experts who happened to be in town to install new bells at the St. Louis, King of France, Catholic Church a few blocks away, looked at the yokes and issued the warning.

"We are working now with the manufacturer in Annecy, France, and the (North Carolina) company that installed the bells to see how to fix the situation. We really don't know how long it will take -- at least until next year," Spillers said.

A cost estimate for the repairs is not yet known.

The bronze and tin bells were installed in the cathedral's 150-foot south bell tower in 1986 and dedicated in 1987.

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