St. Danilov Bells to Ring in Russia Once More

August 15, 2007

Author: Ken Gewertz

Source: Harvard University Gazette

Nearly 80 years after they were rescued by plumbing magnate Charles R. Crane, the Lowell House bells are returning to their original home in the St. Danilov Monastery in Moscow.

Crane bought the bells for the cost of the 26 tons of bronze of which they were made. Ranging in size from the 13-ton Bell of Mother Earth to a 22-pound mini-bell, the set of 18 bells, or zvon, would have been melted down as part of Josef Stalin's campaign to destroy the Russian Orthodox Church. Crane donated the bells to Harvard, where they arrived in the fall of 1930.

Following years of negotiations, Harvard and representatives of the monastery reached an agreement in which the bells would be returned to Russia and replaced by a new set cast by the Vera foundry in the Voronezh region of southwestern Russia. On July 24, a delegation from Harvard participated in a ceremony at the monastery in which the new bells were blessed by Patriarch Alexey II, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, before traveling to their future home in Cambridge, Mass.

"In Russia, this was a very visible project. Hundreds of people came to see the bells and the event was on the news all over the country," said Lowell House co-Master Diana Eck, who spoke at the ceremony.

Eck told her Russian audience that Harvard would be sad to see the bells leave Harvard, but she looked forward to a continuing relationship between Lowell House and the Danilov Monastery.