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

  • Shadow chancellor says third runway ‘cannot stand’ as court of appeal challenges begin

    The campaign against the multibillion-pound expansion of Heathrow is on the verge of victory, John McDonnell has claimed, as three court of appeal judges considered fresh legal challenges against a third runway.

    The shadow chancellor, who has long been an opponent of expanding the airport in his constituency, said the picture had changed since the previous legal challenge in the spring, as the UK had legislated for a net-zero emissions target by 2050 and declared a climate emergency.

    Continue reading...

  • Today, we are making a public pledge to ourselves and our readers, that we are committed to taking responsibility for our role - both journalistically and institutionally - on how to impact the climate crisis we are facing.

    Continue reading...

  • Extinction Rebellion protesters were dragged off a Jubilee line train in Canning Town, east London, after they delayed morning commuters by clambering on top of the roof some people set upon the activist who had to be defended by London Underground staff 

    Activist disrupted train commuters in at least two other locations in London on Thursday 17 October

    Continue reading...

  • ‘Nurse-in’ held outside company’s offices in protest at funding of climate deniers

    Nursing mothers and youths blockaded Google’s London headquarters on Wednesday in protest at the company’s funding of climate deniers, as Extinction Rebellion defied a police order by continuing to stage actions in the capital.

    A Guardian investigation revealed last week that Google had made “substantial” contributions to some of the most notorious climate deniers in Washington, despite its insistence that it supports action on the climate emergency.

    Continue reading...

  • The Guardian’s editor-in-chief explains why support from our readers is crucial in enabling us to produce fearless, independent reporting that addresses the climate emergency

    At the Guardian we believe the climate crisis is the most urgent issue of our times. And we know that Guardian readers are equally passionate about the need for governments, businesses and individuals to take immediate action to avoid a catastrophe for humanity and for the natural world.

    Today the Guardian is making a pledge to our readers that we will play our part, both in our journalism and in our own organisation, to address the climate emergency. We hope this underlines to you the Guardian’s deep commitment to quality environmental journalism, rooted in scientific fact.

    Continue reading...

  • From cutting out beef to repairing old clothes, here are some tips for freshers who want to be green at university

    As university doors opened in September for a new year, an estimated 6 million people across the world took to the streets in a historic week of climate action.

    The power of this youth-led uprising reflected the urgency for action on the environment. So what now? For freshers starting a new chapter at university, deciding how to live your life is vital. Here are some ideas for how you can be sustainable as a student.

    Continue reading...

  • From the ‘food belt’ co-ops of Liège to Tooting’s pop-up village green and London as a giant park: environmentalist Rob Hopkins’ book looks at imaginative local initiatives for a better, sustainable life

    It’s not easy to be a happy environmentalist, but Rob Hopkins might have found a way. In 2005, together with a group of friends in Totnes, Devon, he co-founded what became known as the Transition movement. It seeks to make the world a sustainable place to live, not through protest or resistance, but simply by looking at where you live and making it sustainable. “It’s not that difficult, actually,” he says.

    In Totnes, they connected neighbours to share unused gardens. They planted fruit and nut trees in public spaces and bought their own mill. They are now building 27 sustainable homes. And Totnes is just one of the 992 initiatives all over the world that now make up the movement.

    Continue reading...

  • European Environment Agency found levels of fine particulate matter stalled after decades of reductions

    Little progress has been made on tackling air quality in Europe, new research shows, despite public outcry in many countries and increasing awareness of the health impacts of pollution.

    Levels of the dangerous fine particulate matter known as PM2.5, which can lodge deep in the lungs and pass into the bloodstream, appear to have reached a plateau across Europe, after more than a decade of gradual reductions. The results come from the European Environment Agency’sAir Quality in Europe 2019 report, published on Wednesday, which collates data taken from thousands of monitoring stations in 2017.

    Continue reading...

  • Hunger and the climate crisis are inextricably linked - the challenge is how to solve one while not exacerbating the other

    Hunger is the most awful and profound expression of poverty. It exists in every country. It is something that most people can identify with on some perhaps primordial level. The fear of hunger is etched into our DNA, passed down the generations from hungry, scared ancestors. It is in our bones. It is in my Irish bones.

    First, the good news. For several decades global hunger has been decreasing. This is mostly thanks to the sweat and ingenuity of the 500 million smallholders who produce 80% of thefood consumed in the developing world. It is also thanks to the work of exceptional NGOs, to economic growth and to the innovation of businesses all along the supply chain. It’s thanks, too, to the support of governments and international organisations. And to increased political stability in some places.

    Continue reading...

  • It is a generation that contains veterans of Greenham, the miners’ strike and the poll tax and anti-Iraq war protests – and, with no need to worry about damaged CVs, they are perfect ‘arrestables’

    Protest hits its mark when campaigners look as ordinary as possible, such as the platoons of grandparents swelling the ranks of Extinction Rebellion. Cameras seek out the picturesque – the luminously dreadlocked, tie-dyed stereotype. Although few and far between, they let the rightwing press dismiss the whole huge global uprising as “not people like us”.

    But anyone who was on Saturday’s London march or joined this week’s protests has seen how the great majority are unphotogenic “normals” of all ages, with battalions of those well past retirement. Nor are there many of the usual bothersome far-left groupuscules trying to hijack a mighty, mainstream event.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds