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  • Writer's pictureFogar Mozárabe

The new bell

The bell ringers arrived, the Quintana de Saldaña, there were two or three, I don't remember. They came in a van with a new bell that looked splendid, fresh from the workshop, with its inscription and everything: "Saint Gennadius. Santiago de Peñalba. 2009", the seal of the Palencia foundry and a decorated cross on the back: information for the future. In the third a continuous fretwork, in the middle foot five lines, all in low relief and the imposing yoke of noble woods resistant to sun and rain, well tied with irons to the handle. Excellent workmanship and an ornamental richness that contrasts with the sobriety of the old and worn one that is going to be replaced.

It was July 21, Wednesday, of the same year engraved in the middle of the bell. The town was in that joyful state of waiting for the patron saint's festival, the day of Lord Santiago, which that year will fall on a Sunday, increasing the animation and the attendance of locals and visitors.

The operators carried out their work with solvency and precision. What seemed laborious and complex to us, they managed, with ropes and pulleys, in a jiffy. For many reasons that was a special moment for the people, one could even say historic, using solemn rhetoric.

The fact is that a small group of curious people gathered there who did not want to miss the maneuver and who had the privilege of contemplating, at ground level, the old and the new in that ancestral instrument of marking times and giving warnings, for worship and for what was important, what had to be imperatively summoned, for joy or misfortune, for life or death.

Among the audience were some of the oldest women and men, experts in history and guardians of the memory of the place. Rafaela, Dora and those who have left: Julio, Marcelina, Tomás, Miguel, Cándida and Mrs. Esther de Marín, for them I would ring that new bell when they undertook the final journey. We remember them with emotion and affection. In the photos we see them on that sunny morning following, along with other younger observers, the entire renovation and blessing operation of the bell that arrived in town to take its place in the steeple of the church and continue marking its times, which are ours. On great occasions, the day of Saint James or that of Saint Gennadius, played by Emilio and Enrique with a joyful and ceremonious ringing, they announce the festival throughout the Thebaid.

Text and images: Gustavo Docampo

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