A hundred and thirteen years ago, American troops took these bells as war booty from the church of Parish of St. Francis of Assisi. A hundred and thirteen years later, it has found its way back home.
Journey Back Home
Tagged as the "Meycauayan Bells", this piece of artifact was retrieved in Omaha, Nebraska, USA on July 2011. It was found by archivist Monte Kniffen of the Sisters of Mercy. It is believed that it was taken care of by the Sisters of Mercy in Red Bluff, California. According to the archivist, it is possible that a family or a small museum administration have turned it over to the convent after realizing that it was church bells.*
It was then given by Sisters of Mercy Midwest Community USA President Sister Judith Frikker, RSM to Philippine Consul General to Chicago Leo M. Herrera-Lim on October 2011.*
Later on, it was turned over to the National Museum. And then on August 6, 2012, it was turned over to the Diocese of Malolos, where it will be kept as a major part of the diocese's history. It could have stayed with the parish in Meycauayan but since we don't have a museum here, it has been decided that it will be kept in Malolos.
|Turn-over of the Meycauayan Bells to the Diocese of Malolos|
August 6, 2012 | Jubilee for Clergy
(photo by Marvin Dalag)
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the artifact is approximately 10 inches in length and about 3.5 inches in width. Having seen it up-close, I personally think the measurement fits. It is quite heavy for a typical handbell used in masses and I think it's because of the thick wood where the bells are attached.
As seen on the photo, it comes with a parchment that contains the inscription:
"Taken from the church at MEYCAUAYAN, Luczon (sic) Islands after bombardment by Utah Battery March 29, 1899. By P.O. Thomas, Co. A Battalion of Engineers."
Kuya Marvin and I thought that it could have originally been a part of a bell wheel, but Fr. Uly pointed out that the cut on the sides of the wood were fine so it is quite impossible that it was a part of a bigger artifact. Also, he pointed out that if the bells were taken on 1899, it is definitely older than what we all believe it is. For all we know, it could be as old as our parish (more than 400 years old!)
The fact that the bells are very historic amuses me; but what fascinates me more is its sound. It creates a kind of ringing sound that gives me goosebumps (and I am not exaggerating). It resonates like the Señor San Jose bell on the tower. It was beautiful to listen to.
After seeing the bell and then talking to Kuya Marvin, Kuya Ron-Ron and Kuya Robby, I found greater motivation to discover the history of my town and my parish; and to be part of the group which aims to take care of the great stories that hones the Parish of St. Francis of Assisi and the town (now city) of Meycauayan into what it should really be.
I wish that like the Meycauayan Bells, the glory that this wonderful place deserves comes back home too... soon.
*Taken from http://dfa.gov.ph/main/index.php/newsroom/dfa-releases/4932-dfa-turns-over-meycauayan-bells-taken-during-phl-us-war-to-national-museum
image source: http://www.gov.ph/images/uploads/meycauayanbell2.png