For whom the bell tolls

Vienna has a lot of churches (the saying is that there is one for every day of the year).  And those churches have bells, and the bells are rung a lot.  It’s actually one of my favorite parts of living in Vienna — hearing those bells ring every day.  We’ve gotten accustomed to the regular schedule of church bells — many ring at noon every day, one nearby church rings at 5:45 each evening, another (a little further away) at 7:00.  And then, on Sundays and on the major church holidays, there are extra bells, before and after the church services.  (We’ve gotten so used to the “regular” schedule that I always notice when there are more than usual.)

And then, this evening, shortly after 7:00, the bells started — all over the city, from all of the churches — and they didn’t stop.  They kept ringing, and ringing.  After about 10 minutes, Jo and I noticed and commented.  About 10 minutes later, we figured out what they were celebrating — there must have been a new pope elected.  The bells in Vienna rang for over half an hour, celebrating the selection of the new pope.

Living in this city, where the music of the many church bells has become commonplace (if no less magical), it seems perfectly appropriate to have learned about the election of a new pope by hearing the bells chime with such enthusiasm.  The news spread from the Vatican to Vienna and then to the people by the sound of the bells.  It is a moment of my history here that I don’t think I will ever forget.

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