"E' strano quanto silenzio avvolge il Molise, eppure, in qualche modo, penso che il Molise si deve essere vendicato di quell'abbandono. Con le campane. Quell'eco è appunto del Molise che risuona in tutto il mondo." - Antonio Pascale
In Agnone, a characteristic tradition has been handing on from father to son for eight centuries; it is the bells fusion, now carried out with passion and devotion by the Marinelli’s.
In fact, the Papal Foundry Marinelli is the only one to survive among the several bell-ringers dynasties, whom in 1000 have given birth to this ancient and noble art. In this forge, many bells were constructed and reached every corner of the world.
The Marinelli Foundry history is one thousand years long, passing through good and difficult moments. One of the most important moments was doubtlessly in 1924, when – after the completion of the Pompei Shrine bell (melted there) – Pope Pius XI allowed to the Marinelli’s the privilege to be titled Papal.
Since then, many years have passed, but in the Foundry the work goes on as well as in the Middle Ages, either for the processing techniques and for devotion, professionalism, passion through which the bells are manufactured.
HOW TO MAKE A BELL
There are many elements to consider for a successful bell: thickness, weigh, diameter and height. The starting point is represented by the diameter, especially in order to determine the sound, that is the note of the scale.
There are five stages for a bell manufacture:
1. By using a wooden outline, they construct a brick structure with a conical shape, called soul, which is the bell inside.
2. On the soul, they put a clay stratum on another till the desired thickness is formed. The clay has special qualities as it has to resist to the erosive action of the liquid metal during the pouring. On the smooth surface obtained by the outline, they apply all the ornaments, inscriptions, escutcheons and figures which will decorate the false bell.
3. By putting a fine clay stratum on another with a paintbrush (letting them desiccate among the different brush-strokes), you will obtain the mantle. During the desiccation phase, carried out through hot coals, placed inside the bell, the wax stratum used for decorations melts and the clay absorbs it (so called lost wax casting process). Then the cover – on which decorations and inscriptions are impressed in negative – is raised and the false bell is destroyed in order to release the soul.
4. The cover is replaced on the soul, so the space, previously occupied by the false bell, can contain the liquid metal, the bronze (78 copper and 22 tin parts) during the pouring and placed into a ditch filled in with earth to avoid its shifting during the pouring. So, the pouring goes down from the ovens, built with refractory bricks and this is the most suggestive moment of manufacturing, a quite religious moment also for the supplications to the Madonna.
5. After being cleared from the cover and soul, the cooled bell is polished. In the same phase, they test the sound through the diapason and special devices, obtaining the tonality, while in other divisions the clapper is prepared proportionally to the bell weigh.
THE HISTORICAL MUSEUM OF THE BELL “Giovanni Paolo II”
The historical Museum of the Bell “Giovanni Paolo II” was instituted in 1999 and is adjacent to the “Pontificia Fonderia Marinelli”. This is one of a few private museums in the world and gathers a wide collection of bells from 1000 to nowadays.
Besides the wide collection of bells, there are also ancient documents about the bell art and a photographic excursus about the most important bells, meetings and memories that link the Marinelli’s to the Popes.