Return of the Tsar Bell

 

Diocese of Nizhny Novgorod is going to set up a bell in the city. It weighs 60t and will be the third large bell in Russia.

The bell installation is going to coincide with 400 years since the public levy headed by Kozma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky who freed Moscow from Polish invaders. The bell called “Soborny” will weigh 60t. It will also be the third large bell in Russia after the bell in Holy Trinity St. Sergius Laura (72t) and the bell in the belltower of Moscow Kremlin (65t). The future miracle will have 4m in diameter.

In this respect it is worth mentioning how the unique “Tsar Bell” in Sergiev Posad was erected. A 72-t bell for Laura belltower was cast on September, 10, 2003 at the “Baltic Plant” in Saint-Petersburg – it was replacement of the lost “Tsar”. The weight of the bell made up 65t and the sound of its ringing could be heard at a 30km distance. Even the belltower – the highest in Russia – was seen from afar. During the Communist terror in 1930 the belltower was devoid of large bells, including “Tsar Bell”. By September 2002 there had been 23 bells in Holy Trinity St. Sergius Laura – almost twice less than before the revolution of 1917.

The new bell got the same name and was lifted to the tower on April, 16, 2004. For the first time it rang on Trinity – on May, 30 the same year. The namesake of Moscow Tsar Bell yields to its 202-t senior brother in weight, though it has a powerful voice: it is the largest ringing bell in the world.

Restoration of the bell posed a lot of complicated engineering challenges, including transportation. Several various variants of delivery were taken into consideration. First, it was planned to be transported from Saint-Petersburg to its destination point by water. But modifications and tests didn’t allow to make it in time, and rivers were covered by ice. Owing to assistance rendered by Moscow Institute ROSDORNII the land operation on delivering this high-value cargo was chosen.

Transportation from Baltic Plant workshops to the temple began on January, 9, 2004. The bell was to pass the distance of 800 km in 6 days under extraordinary security to maintain its ringing capability. Therefore, the speed of the column barely exceeded 40 km/h and amounted to 10-15 km/h along some routes.

Two MAN tractors were used to deliver this unique cargo: the one pulled the platform with the bell, and the other followed nearby for backup purposes. Overall weight of the convoy reached 120t and its height was just about 5.20 m.

Carriage was done mainly in the daytime, as the weather conditions were not so favorable: glaze, snowfalls, short light day. The team faced difficulties as well. The bell on the trailer couldn’t fit into clearance under one of the bridges along the way just by several centimeters. In order to overcome this obstacle, engineers had to make flat tires – only this helped to let the bell under the bridge.

Another problem was found out in the monastery. The diameter of the so-called bell skirt was 4.5m, and the gate width was just 4.10m, lacking only 40 cm to let the load through. The Laura servings had to demolish a part of brickwork and corner arch of Uspensky Gates so that the bell could finally be carried to the territory of the monastery.

The bell on the low-bed platform still couldn’t pass the gates, this time in height. The workers had to hoist it by means of ropes and a heavy-duty crane and place it on special skids, which smoothly brought it to the final destination in Laura. Thus, transport stage of returning the bell was at last accomplished. Besides, it was mounted on the tower through the same clearance through which it was tossed down by Communists.