A historic bell that symbolizes religious liberty has been sent to its home parish in Philadelphia over the weekend.
On Saturday, Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Senior held a prayer service at St. Augustine Parish in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia, where he blessed the Sister Bell, a bell that was originally cast in larger form to replace the cracked Liberty Bell. The bishop remarked that the iconic bell is a reminder that "the precious gift of religious freedom...cannot be taken for granted."
According to Catholic Philly, the centuries-old Sister Bell was originally cast in 1754 to replace the Liberty Bell that cracked on its first testing. Sister Bell then hung in the shadow of the repaired Liberty Bell, which cracked again. Sister Bell would toll the hours at a building that would later become Independence Hall.
Historic Bell Finds Its Way Back Home
In 1777, the Liberty Bell and Sister Bell were smuggled to Allentown to avoid being taken by the invading British troops. A year later, it was returned to Philadelphia. Fast forward 40 years, the city transfered the Sister Bell to the Augustinian clergy who served Old St. Augustine Parish on the corner of 4th and Vine Streets.
In 1844, the church was burned to the ground following a massive surge in discrimination against Catholics and immigrants Native American political party, which was commonly called "Know-Nothings" for its secrecy of their affiliation and activities. Pennsylvania was the place for demonstrations, as the seminary called St. Michael Church on Second Street, St. Augustine, and several private homes were destroyed in a three-day riot.
After the May 1844 fire, what remained of the Sister Bell were gathered and recast into what it is today. It has spent many years at Villanova University before staying at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish in Jamaica, New York between 1917 to 1942.
Sister Bell Has an Inspiring Inscription
Inscribed on both the new Sister Bell, the previous Sister Bell, and the Liberty Bell is a quote from Scripture, specifically Leviticus 25:10, King James Version, which read, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof."
Upon reflecting on this passage, Bishop Senior remarked that Sister Bell as it is today may be smaller than the original Sister Bell of centuries ago, but it speaks more loudly. The Scripture written on it was selected to commemorate the 50th anniversary of William Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges, which ensured religious liberty and self-government of the citizens of Pennsylvania, the bishop explained.
These very same religious freedom rights will be defended by Doug Mastriano, the front-runner for the GOP nomination for governor of Pennsylvania in the event that he is elected, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Mastriano is a retired Army Colonel and senator who is described as "the epitome of a resurgent movement of Christian nationalism." The 58 year old has consistently led or has been near the top of the polls ahead of the May 17 primary.