In the midst of so much noise from cars, airplanes, vendors and people on the streets, a new kind of sound could be heard emanating in Baclaran today. This sound comes from the carillon bells of the newly constructed bell tower of the shrine. The bells’ exquisite sounds evoke a sacred aura that could be heard as far as one kilometer. One can hear these sounds at certain times of the day.
This is the first time the Shrine has had a bell tower since it was built. Built in 2015, devotees and pilgrims helped fund the carillon bell tower. The shrine has opened the bell tower to all devotees and guests every day. It is becoming one of the most popular spots in the shrine today.
“Carillon” is a set of stationary bells normally placed in a tower or high outdoor frame which when rung together can play a song or music. There are 25 carillon bells in this tower. They were all casted by Grassmayr, a European leading bell casting company from Innsbruck, Tirol, Austria.
The carillon bells do not need a human bell ringer. They are automatically programmed to ring at 6 am, 12 pm and 6 pm for the angelus. It also rings at 8 pm in honor of the dead and at 3 pm in commemoration of the death of Jesus on the cross. It also rings 15 minutes before every Mass or Novena service. There are 55 carillon bell “songs” to choose from, which include Novena songs, Christmas songs and religious songs. In special occasions of the shrine, like the feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, they are used to signify to people about an important part of a liturgical service like the consecration in the Eucharist.
The bell tower also features 4 mosaics of Our Mother of Perpetual Help on each side of the tower. The four mosaic panels were created by VitreArtus Liturgical Arts Company owned by Mr Robert Cruz. According to Cruz, VitreArtus used imported glass tesserae which are homogeneously colored stones that will never fade.
Another interesting feature of the Carillon bell tower is the Sinirangan coffee shop at its ground floor. The Sinirangan Coffee Shops is another spot which is becoming increasingly popular. If you have the chance to climb the tower you will be rewarded with a magnificent view of the surroundings of the Baclaran National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
It is indeed refreshing to hear the sounds from this bell tower. In this technological age, the carillon bells help to remind us of a time when bells were used to call worshippers to the church for a communal service, and to announce times of daily prayer, especially the angelus. It helps us to pause and ponder the sense of mystery amidst the frenzied and materialistic rhythm of our daily existence.