The following comes from an Oct. 13 story in the Kodiak Daily Mirror.
A 200-year-old Russian Orthodox bell has been returned to Alaska after being held by Catholics for more than a century in Southern California.
The bell, known as the San Fernando bell, was returned to Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral on Oct. 1 and is waiting to be placed in a permanent outside display.
Rev. Innocent Dresdow, dean of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral, said repatriation of the bell is significant since bells are considered joyful and a sign of hope in the Orthodox Church.
“This is very, very important,” he said. “The significance of bells in the church, they are a call to worship. They are a physical part of the church service itself.”
The San Fernando bell won’t be used actively in the cathedral, since the belfry already has eight bells, but it is considered a part of the church’s history and will be displayed outside in the church’s bell garden. The garden contains original bells from the church in Kodiak before it burned in 1943, as well as bells from the church on Woody Island.
The San Fernando bell had been housed at the Mission of San Fernando Rey de España in California and was under the care of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. How or when the bell came to be at the mission is unknown. The earliest recorded account of the bell in California is the writings of expert Marie Walsh in the 1930s, although some accounts indicate the bell could have been in California as early as 1890.
The bell is 12 inches tall, and its base is 12 inches in diameter. Made of a bronze alloy, it has two rings of lacework on the topside, but no other decorations, aside from a now-welded crack that stretches from one of the lacework rings to three-quarters of the way up the bell.
According to bell expert Mark Galperin of San Rafael, Calif., the bell was cast in the early 19th century or earlier and is of Russian origin. While the bell doesn’t have any inscriptions mentioning Kodiak, a second bell at the Rancho Camulos Museum in Piru, Calif. has an inscription that references a Kodiak historical figure. The bells are believed to be part of a set….
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