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12 Sep, 2007 16:33

Danilov `singing icon` blessed

The first of the 18 bells of the Danilov Monastery in Moscow is back home. Patriarch Aleksy II has blessed the bell in front of hundreds of Orthodox Christians and non-believers who turned up to witness the historic event.

For more than seventy years the bells have been at Harvard University in the U.S. They were brought from Russia in the 1930s by the wealthy U.S. philanthropist Charles Crane, who bought them in the Soviet Union in the time of the religious purges.

The Danilov bells are actually one of the few sets of bells which survived the Stalinist era.

The negotiations on returning the bells to Russia actually lasted two decades and now all the bells are to be sent back to Russia, which in turn will provide exact replicas of them to replace the original bells in Harvard.

The other 17 bells are still in Harvard. They will be returned next year on September 12, which is a religious holiday in Russia known as St. Daniel’s day.

Church bells in Russia are seen as hugely significant. They are considered to be singing icons acting as intermediaries between God and the faithful.