From the Archives: A Bell for the Irish
Twice a day the bell peals forth from the tall tower of the new Benedictine Priory on E. Larpenteur Avenue in Maplewood. It has a beautiful tonal quality—something beyond most bells. It also has a long and musical history whose echoes sweep across the wide valleys of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers to a tiny crossroads in Scott County called Credit River.
It was here almost a century ago that some of the first of the Irish immigrants from the Auld Sod put down their roots in the new sod. Names like Faricy, O’Connell, Hanrahan, Suel, Ryan, White, Cassidy, Kennelly sprouted on the hilly, fertile land. Their community center was Credit River and their church, St Peter, was at the center.
The pride of the church was its bell, cast in Belgium and installed with great affection in the church steeple. From that lofty perch it marked by its tolling the human dramas enacted on the stage all around. The marriages, the births, the deaths, and the special occasions and ceremonies, the holidays, and Sundays. Credit River folks lived by the bell, whose tonal qualities were sweet as a May morning.
But one by one the sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters began leaving the sod for the city. The stores at the crossroads closed. Pretty soon the church was almost alone. So,
a few years ago, it was closed and torn down. Antique and souvenir fanciers came to take what they could—but not the bell. One of the Fancy clan, whose last reunion filled almost two farm fields with descendants, remembered the bell. It was salvaged and stored. And, when members of the family heard that the Benedictine Sisters were building their new priory in Maplewood, the bell was offered and accepted.
Back in early January, the bell—all refurbished and polished—was hung and blessed by Auxiliary Bishop O’Keefe of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul. Twice each day it rings the Angelus and the times when the nuns pray the Office.
It bears an inscription which reads: “In memory of Roland J. Faricy, late and renowned St. Paul attorney, one of the great clan of Faricys, whose sentiment for an old church bell preserved it as a ringing piece of Irish history in the New World.