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Life Imitates Art? St. Philip’s Connection to Bazriel and the Frozen Bells of Noël

News--Frozen Bells

Earlier this month, Jesus Street Press of Charleston released Bazriel and the Frozen Bells of Noël, an angelic adventure into France during the time of the Impressionist painters. Written by St. Philippian Pringle Franklin, the hardcover book features 95 pictures from famous artists that represent the book’s two settings of Heaven and France in 1890. Monet, Renoir, Rembrandt, Pissarro, Cézanne, and Sisley are among the featured artists.

And St. Philip’s has found its way into the tale! In a note across from a full-page image of the striking oil painting by Charles DuPre DeAntonio, Franklin relates a curious connection between the bells of St. Nicolas Church in the story and those in our belfry:

In an odd note of synchronicity, while I was creating my story about frozen church bells in France, the bronze beauties in the belfry of my home church were struck dumb. In June 2021, a wicked fork of lightning zapped the steeple of historic St. Philip’s Church (Anglican) in downtown Charleston. The wiring that controls the four bells was fried. From the biggest sister, with her robust figure of 1,102 pounds, to the tiniest girl, with her dainty 230-pound form, not one of the bells could ring.

Normally, the rocking bells play a jubilant song to mark every hour and chime to mark every quarter hour. The beloved music casts a melodious touch over narrow alleys and cobbled streets, pastel houses, and flower-filled window boxes. It was five long months before the bells were finally set right; in that time, the heartbeat of the charming 18th-century neighborhood seemed out of cadence.

I marveled at the coincidence. Had my mental images of muted church bells, bubbling constantly in my thoughts, somehow invited a copycat event? It hardly seemed likely, yet our broken church bells felt eerily similar to Bazriel’s predicament in Combloux, France. In both cases, the silence made the bells more precious as people yearned to hear their songs. Unlike in the book, Heaven did not send down an angel to repair the St. Philip’s bells. But the crisis in each belfry was happily resolved. One might consider the age-old question: does art imitate life, or does life imitate art?

Stay tuned––plans for a book signing are in the works! Bazriel and the Frozen Bells of Noël is available now at etsy.com.