Monday, March 31, 2008

Metropolitan Laurus & the Bells of San Francisco

The following account, written by Mr David Jepson, Dean of the St John's Orthodox Academy in San Francisco, was forwarded to me by email:
On Saturday night (March 15th) I got home from choir practice rather late, and stayed up much later than normal as I had a very late dinner. I had finished eating and was reading a book at about 11:30 p.m. when my roommate came in and asked if I knew why the Cathedral bells were ringing. He had been in his bedroom, which like mine faces the street and has a view of the Cathedral a block away. In the kitchen, a couple of rooms away, I couldn't hear the bells, but I agreed that it seemed strange for them to be ringing at that time of night. I went to bed about a half hour later and thought nothing more about it. At church on Sunday, we were all shocked to hear that Metropolitan Laurus, the leader of the Russian Church Outside Russia, had reposed. Our priest got a telephone call from a former parishioner just before the service started at 9.00 a.m.

We heard about the chronology of events later on Sunday from the matushka of one of the Cathedral priests, whose son is at the Seminary in NY. Sometime on Sunday morning, when Metropolitan Laurus was noticed to be absent, someone went to his house and discovered that he had reposed in his sleep. The police were called etc., and people there began notifying the rest of the world. No one here in SF knew about it until 8.00 or so on Sunday morning (11.00 a.m. New York time). As the day went on, word about his death continued to spread. People here were discussing going to the funeral in NY on Friday.

As we talked about these events, the issue of the bells came up.! Others living near the Cathedral had heard the bells ringing late on Saturday night. When they came to the early service at the Cathedral (it starts at 7.30 a.m.), they found the bells tied up in the normal way, which seemed puzzling. Someone had to have gotten into the locked place where the bells are untied them, rung them (very beautifully, my roommate said), and tied them back up, all in the darkness of near midnight. No one in the group I was talking to, which included the wives of both Cathedral priests, knew who could have done it. But then as we were talking, we also learned that the NY police estimated that Metropolitan Laurus had died between 2.00 and 3.00 a.m. That's between 11.00 p.m. and 12.00 midnight here. And then everything seemed obvious.

"I attest that I had just begun reading the pre-communion canons when I heard bells....Orthodox Bells...ringing with the melodies familiar to us at the Cathedral. I first thought it was my CD player...when I checked, I found that it was off. David was reading in the kitchen and I went and asked him if he was playing music. We weren't. Others in the vicinity heard the bells at the same time, roughly the time when Vladyka Metropolitan passed away."

(Note the bells are behind two locked security gates and everyone who has access and who knows how to properly ring the bells have all sworn that they did not ring them).

His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill told us that the bells had been rung by the angels.
Eternal Memory!

UPDATE: A reader left the following comment:

I also live directly behind Holy Virgin Cathedral. I was about to go to bed at around 11: 40 or so and heard the bells ringing and thought, "wow, they're finishing up the vigil rather late tonight". Also, I was surprised to hear the bell ringing to be so accomplished, as if from a professional bell ringer. Only on the next day was I told of the Metropolitan's passing.

8 comments:

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

Wow. Glory to God!

Simka said...

I also live directly behind Holy Virgin Cathedral. I was about to go to bed at around 11: 40 or so and heard the bells ringing and thought, "wow, they're finishing up the vigil rather late tonight". Also, I was surprised to hear the bell ringing to be so accomplished, as if from a professional bell ringer. Only on the next day was I told of the Metropolitan's passing.

Felix Culpa said...

Simka: Thank you VERY much for your confirmation of this miracle!

I have to admit that, when I first heard about the bells a few days after the Metropolitan's repose, I was a bit skeptical. Now I realize how misplaced that skepticism was. It would be interesting to collect further testimonies as well. Again: thanks!

Fr. Milovan Katanic said...

While we're at it: we heard about this great blessing and then were later told, not only did the bells sound but it was a new melody that would be used for Metropolitan's upcoming visit.

Maybe Simka or someone from the SF area can confirm or correct this.

Simka said...

Sorry, Father, but I am not that well-versed in bell tones to be able to discern. However, I can affirm that the more I think about it the more uncanny it all seems. First of all, the bells are locked behind a gate, and, secondly, though I don't know the melody, it was definitley the "blagovest" of someone who knew what they were doing (not just someone who had crawled over the locked gate who decided to have a turn with the bells). May Metropolitan Laurus' Memory Be Eternal!

Vir Speluncae Orthodoxae said...

Dang!

Meg said...

No question in my mind but that our beloved Vladyka Metropolitan paid you a visit. Now, the only question in my mind is, When will he be glorified? (Notice that I did not say "if"...).

Felix Culpa said...

Meg: Well, bear in mind that it took nearly three decades before St John of Shanghai and San Francisco was Glorified. No need to hurry!