Let the bells ring out!

Published in Highlights

Church bells are part of daily life all over Croatia. Splitska on Brač Island is one of the few places where the bells are rung by hand and not electronically controlled.

Jure, Splitska's bell-ringer Jure, Splitska's bell-ringer Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Jure Čeprnić is the last remaining regular bell-ringer on Brač Island. He is on duty all day every day, waking the village at 6 am, sounding noon, and signalling the end of the day at 20:30 in the summer, earlier in the darker days of winter. In anticipation of Mass or any religious ceremony in the church, he rings the bells every quarter of an hour from an hour and a quarter beforehand. Visitors to Splitska are usually startled by the early-morning wake-up call, but then adjust surprisingly quickly to sleep through it, if they so wish. Some years ago one parish priest wanted to reduce the bell-ringing during Mass to just special occasions such as Christmas and the Assumption, but this decision was reversed by the more recent parish priests, so Jure rings the bells at the appropriate moments during services, as is the custom throughout Croatia..


Jure ringing the Splitska Church bell. Photo Vivian Grisogono

Splitska's charming little church, dedicated to St. Mary, was first built in the 13th century. It has a loyal congregation, some of whom attend Mass almost every day. The village celebrates the Feast of Our Lady's Assumption in magnificent style every year. There is a celebratory Mass, followed by a Procession around the village with a statue of Our Lady taking pride of place. Later on, the evening erupts with live music on the grassy square at the end of the Riva. There is much singing and dancing, and the opportunity for local entrepreneurs to sell their wares from specially erected stands.

Splitska Church, main altar. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Jure has special duties on Splitska's Feast Day. There is a full peal of bells before the celebratory Mass, rung by his father Vladimir, who is 76, with their cousin Pero Barbarić. Jure rings the bell at the appropriate moments during the Mass. Then, late in the evening, tradition has it that he sings in a special guest spot with the band on the main stage. He fulfils all his duties with apparently limitless energy. Indeed, from the time he took on the bell-ringing, having been taught by his father, he has only missed one full day's work, when he had 'flu. Sometimes when he is away visiting other parishes the bells are rung by a reserve bell-ringer, or - very occasionally - electronically. Now 47 years old, Jure first rang the bells when he was about eight.

Jure in action. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Splitska is an ancient settlement, best known as the source of the stones for Diocletian's Palace in Split. Some of the exceedingly steep small streets leading down from the top of the village to the waterfront served in Roman times as slides, down which massive blocks of stone were propelled on wooden rollers. After the 13th century, the village was abandoned due to the constant threat of attacks by pirates from Omiš. In 1577, Mihovil Cerinić (Cerineo) built a small citadel near the church, as protection against the Ottoman danger. Descendants of the Cerinić family are still present in Splitska to this day. Other houses were also built in the 16th century in the core of the village, which has expanded in the succeeding centuries.

Splitska Church side altar, featuring Madonna and Child. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Jure takes pride in looking after the church and the needs of the parishioners. He helps distribute the Catholic newspaper Glas Koncila, and looks after the flower display provided by the local Council at the foot of the steps leading up to the church.

Jure also looks after the flowers decorating the entrance to the Church. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

He receives a minute stipend for his labours. In January, he receives a bonus from the parishioners' contributions when the Blessing of the Houses takes place. Jure is obviously not in it for the money. He feels passionately that the bells should sound in the traditional way, and would not give up his duties for anything.

The view from Splitska's churchyard. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Splitska has seen many changes over the centuries, but Jure's valiant bell-ringing defies the march of modernity - long may he continue!

Splitska sunset - timeless romance. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

© Vivian Grisogono 2016

You are here: Home highlights Let the bells ring out!

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Activists spend seven days occupying BP rig in Cromarty Firth, leading to 14 arrests

    Greenpeace has ended its protest against BP drilling for oil in the North Sea by handing in “people’s climate injunctions” at the company’s headquarters.

    Greenpeace protesters spent nearly seven days occupying an oil rig rented by BP in the Cromarty Firth in northern Scotland last week, leading to the arrests of 14 activists, including three photographers hired by the pressure group.

    Continue reading...

  • Concern grow over ammonia particles from fertiliser and bioaerosol from intensive farms

    We think of the countryside as being a place of fresh air. Each weekend thousands of us leave our cities to hike or cycle in rural areas or simply to enjoy time in nature. Increasing attention is being given, however, to air pollution from farming. Ammonia from fertiliser and slurry mixes with air pollution from cities, traffic and industry to add to the particle pollution that plagues many parts of the world. It is estimated that halving ammonia from farming could avoid about 52,000 premature deaths from air pollution across Europe each year and 3,000 in the UK.

    Increasing attention is also being paid to bioaerosol from intensive farming. In animal houses these are tiny particles and dust from the animals themselves, their food, bedding and waste. They can also include fungi, bacteria and pollen. A recent review by Imperial College and Public Health England found evidence of respiratory problems in farm workers and raised concerns about exposure for people living close to intensive livestock farms, including some evidence of increased asthma in children. Bioaerosol concerns mean that composting facilities need to be at least 250 metres from UK homes and schools, but farms can be nearer and only require assessment if they are closer than 100 metres.

    Continue reading...

  • Event will take place on 22 September across 18 boroughs, with road closures and events

    Sadiq Khan has announced plans to implement London’s biggest car-free day to date, closing 12.3 miles (20km) of roads in the centre of the capital in September.

    Roads will be closed for the event around London Bridge, Tower Bridge and much of the City of London to help tackle the capital’s air pollution crisis, which kills thousands of people each year and leaves two million – including 400,000 children – living in areas with illegally dirty air.

    Continue reading...

  • MELTDOWN – a visualisation of climate change has opened at Natural History Museum of Vienna. Created by the climate crisis charity Project Pressure, the exhibition on vanishing glaciers uses art to inspire action and behavioural change. Unlike wildfires, flooding and other weather events, the retreat of the world’s glaciers can be attributed to global warming. To incite action, Project Pressure has created a carbon footprint calculator in collaboration with ClimateHero to learn how carbon-intense the users’ lifestyle is.

    Continue reading...

  • MPs launch assembly plan but environmental activists say its conclusions must be binding

    A citizens’ assembly on the climate emergency will take place this autumn to explore the fastest and fairest ways to end the UK’s carbon emissions.

    Six House of Commons select committees announced the assembly on Thursday. It is the second of the three demands made by the Extinction Rebellion protest group to be addressed.

    Continue reading...

  • There are only about 30 north Pacific right whales left after hunters nearly wiped out the slow-moving animals

    Marine biologists for the first time have recorded singing by one of the rarest whales on the planet, the north Pacific right whale.

    Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used moored acoustic recorders to capture repeated patterns of calls made by male north Pacific right whales.

    Continue reading...

  • Ice losses indicate ‘devastating’ future for region and 1 billion people who depend on it for water

    The melting of Himalayan glaciers has doubled since the turn of the century, with more than a quarter of all ice lost over the last four decades, scientists have revealed. The accelerating losses indicate a “devastating” future for the region, upon which a billion people depend for regular water.

    The scientists combined declassified US spy satellite images from the mid-1970s with modern satellite data to create the first detailed, four-decade record of ice along the 2,000km (1,200-mile) mountain chain.

    Continue reading...

  • Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic refuse to sign up to text that activists already viewed as too vague

    A trio of central European countries have blocked the EU from inching closer to a net-zero carbon emissions target for 2050.

    European leaders meeting in Brussels sparred over the EU’s role in tackling the unfolding climate emergency, which threatens to significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat, poverty and destruction of wildlife around the world.

    Continue reading...

  • Mass migration back to UK waylaid by stormy conditions and lack of nesting places

    The number of swifts that returned to Britain from their wintering grounds in Africa this spring was the lowest since records began, with poor weather in the Mediterranean delaying their arrival by two weeks. Experts fear the recent wet weather will further hit their numbers. Swift numbers in Britain have fallen by more than 50% since 1995.

    More than 100 walks, talks and visits to urban areas to witness the swift’s aerial “screaming parties” will be held this week to raise awareness of the plight of this unique migratory bird.

    Continue reading...

  • Shell, BP and Centrica have talked of backing EU emissions target but withheld support

    The UK’s largest energy companies have withheld support for a legally binding target to reduce the EU’s emissions to net zero by 2050, even while publicly backing the plans.

    Royal Dutch Shell, BP and British Gas’s owner, Centrica, have all publicly thrown their weight behind more ambitious EU emissions cuts, but none supported the Brussels proposals for a tougher target in an official consultation.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds