Mar 21, 2013

St. Patrick's Church Interior: Bell Tower

It's not everyday that you find yourself climbing the stairs of a hundred year old bell tower and enjoying a rare perspective from the roof of a National Historic Site of Canada. St. Patrick's church in Medicine Hat, Alberta is an iconic structure in the city, and the bell tower showcases some amazing history that not everyone gets the opportunity to see. 

St. Patrick's three original bronze bells still sit at the top of the church's east tower with ropes leading down to a locked box next to the front entrance. They were cast in France in 1913, and each bell features ornate embellishments, including one of St. Patrick himself. The stairs leading up to the bells wrap around the edges of the concrete tower and reminded me of an M.C. Escher drawing. They were noticeably primitive, and each step gave a little as I climbed higher. As I reached the top however, I was blown away by the small space. 

There I was looking up into the steeple of St. Patrick's (see the collage above) and with the small side door to the roof opened, I was given a perspective of the church that I'd never seen before. The sun was blazing, and as stood there in the cool winter air I literally began looking at this familiar location in an entirely new light. One hundred years after it was constructed, the location and architecture didn't fail to captivate me. It gave me a new found appreciation. 

St. Patrick's Bells blessed March 17, 1914. The three bells named Felix Elizabeth, Mary and Mary Adelaide, are installed in the east bell tower. Their respective weights are 2907, 1483.5 and 925.5 pounds. They were cast in ornate, inscripted bronze in Ste. Savoie, France, by G. Paccard & Sons. The three bells constitute a low pitch in keys D, F sharp, and A.


Susan Barth said...

Thank you so much for this. I attended St. Patrick's as a child. My parents were married there. I was baptized, given my first communion and confirmed there. I said goodbye to my mother there. While I am no longer a Catholic, there is something incredibly nostalgic and special about that beautiful building for me. Amazing work, Luke. Again - thank you.

Bonnie Marr-Smith said...

What a majestic structure, I too went to St. Patrick's as a small child, we lived in the motel type structures nearby in the 50's. My little friends were "caflic", so I proved that I could go too... even though I wasnt "caflic"... trotted up like I owned the place, apparently... haha Thank you so much Luke for showing us the inside of this beautiful cathedral, amazing work for sure. My grandfather has painted this many times, being a proud Medicine Hatter... Alfred Bakstad was his name.

Rebecca Maxwell said...

Do they ever ring the bells?

Monica said...

Rebecca Maxwell, yes they do! About 15 min before the services at 5 on Saturdays and 9 and 11 on Sundays. I used to attend the church when I lived in Medicine Hat, and I was an altar server for much of that time (kind of an assistant during the service) and I rang those bells many times! The weights on those bells are no joke either; I often pulled the heaviest one, and it often sent my feet off the ground!