AGNONE, Italy – “There is always some magic in making a bell,” said Armando Marinelli, who belongs to the 26th generation of his family involved in the business. “Each bell has its own soul.”
Mr Marinelli, 61, and his brother Pasquale, 51, run the plastics factory Marinelli, the hallmark of this small town in central Italy, but the business is believed to have been operating here since at least 1339. And it was Pope Pius. XI, who in 1924 granted the family a papal patent, recognition of their skills, which was included in the name of the company.
Today, he accepts orders from churches, governments, businesses and organizations, and his bells can be found all over the world, from St. Peter’s Square in Rome to the United Nations building in New York.
Time doesn’t stop when you walk into the bottega, as the family calls the foundry, but it certainly does. Casting a bell from bronze takes three to four months, and 15 foundries use the same traditional lost wax process for each of the roughly 100 bells they make a year. A brick rod is created which is covered with clay, then waxed and finished with another layer of clay. After the wax is melted, the remaining space becomes a shape.
The light in the foundry appears to be alive during the casting of a new bell, a process called fusion. On this day, the craftsmen were illuminated by the glow of red-hot metal, and the local priest, who was asked to bless the process, sprinkled them with holy water.
The bell was born.