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

  • Exclusive: Nearly half existing facilities will need to close prematurely to limit heating to 1.5C, scientists say

    Nearly half of existing fossil fuel production sites need to be shut down early if global heating is to be limited to 1.5C, the internationally agreed goal for avoiding climate catastrophe, according to a new scientific study.

    The assessment goes beyond the call by the International Energy Agency in 2021 to stop all new fossil fuel development to avoid the worst impacts of global heating, a statement seen as radical at the time.

    Continue reading...

  • Promises of jobs and investment are doing little to convince a remote Lincolnshire community to agree to hosting the country’s nuclear waste

    On the unspoilt Lincolnshire coast, where dog walkers enjoy the five miles of golden sandy beach and families take holidays in the caravan parks beyond the dunes, the efforts of British politicians to persuade the public nuclear energy is green, safe and clean do not seem to be gaining traction.

    A skull glowers down from the sand dunes on to Mablethorpe Beach, a portent of death and destruction, and a throwback to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament protests of the 1980s.

    Continue reading...

  • Reasons behind drop include people being more conscious of energy use during cost of living crisis, says CPRE

    Light pollution has decreased as a result of fears over soaring energy costs, a survey by the countryside charity CPRE has suggested.

    Stargazers have been enjoying the best view of the night sky since 2011, as light pollution sharply dropped during the pandemic lockdowns and the levels continue to fall despite restrictions having been lifted.

    Continue reading...

  • Three Shires Head, Peak District: Red kite, peregrine and buzzard, playing together in the sky above – it’s a joyous sight

    This is an intriguing landscape, not just because it’s a rare point of union for three counties: Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire. As much as it’s a real place, it exists as a powerful meme on social media, and come the bank holiday, the double stream through arched bridges, with its modest white-water fall of about 3 metres, is thronged with people.

    I’m not sure exactly why they come or what exists between the ears of some of those motivated to visit. Recently I was stopped by a carful of five arriving from Cambridge, who asked for directions. When I told them that they would have to park half a mile away and walk, they drove off, never to return. However, I then went on to have an experience at Three Shires Head that suggested there is something magical at play here.

    Continue reading...

  • Despite the magnitude of Australia’s environmental decline, we still have the opportunity and ability to turn things around

    It’s 1996 and I’m in my last year of undergraduate studies at James Cook University, in Townsville. World coral expert Prof Terry Hughes cautions our class that on current trajectories, climate change and coral bleaching threaten destruction of the Great Barrier Reef. In another class, rainforest expert Prof Stephen Williams shares his concerns that increasing temperatures will force highly climate-sensitive animals – including the golden bowerbird and lemuroid ringtail possum – to move higher and higher up mountains in the ancient rainforests of the Wet Tropics, to cling to survival in cooler refuges. Of course, once trapped on a mountain top, there’s nowhere further for many wildlife species to retreat to.

    As an optimistic 21-year-old, their warnings are unsettling, but I’m not panicked. I’m still hopeful science will help provide answers to the challenges at hand, and naively, I trust that our political leaders will act swiftly. In doing so we’ll avoid any genuinely dire outcomes for the wildlife and ecosystems so many Australians, and indeed people globally, hold so dear. After all, we are entwined with and completely dependent upon nature, so allowing its demise would be genuinely reckless, right?

    Continue reading...

  • More than 200 barriers were taken down last year, helping to restore fish migration routes and boost biodiversity and climate resilience

    At least 239 barriers, including dams and weirs, were removed across 17 countries in Europe in 2021, in a record-breaking year for dam removals across the continent.

    Spain led the way, with 108 structures taken out of the country’s rivers. “Our efforts to expand dam removals across Europe are gathering speed,” said Pao Fernández Garrido, project manager for the World Fish Migration Foundation, who helped produce Dam Removal Europe’s annual report.

    Continue reading...

  • Last November in Glasgow, countries agreed to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial averages. Six months on, the world has changed, with the war in Ukraine, high energy prices and the cost of living crisis threatening to derail us from achieving our climate goals. Ian Sample speaks to the Guardian’s environment correspondent, Fiona Harvey, about what promises are still on the table and what else needs to be done to address the climate emergency as we approach the next conference, Cop27.

    Archive: Channel 4 News, Deutsche Welle, PBS News, 9 News Australia, ABC News, Euronews, COP26

    Continue reading...

  • Ministers instead urged to focus on reducing flights and halting airport expansion to cut carbon emissions

    The UK government’s “jet zero” plan to eliminate carbon emissions from aviation relies on unproven or nonexistent technology and “sustainable” fuel, and is likely to result in ministers missing their legally binding emissions targets, according to a report.

    The study from Element Energy, which has worked for the government and the climate change committee in the past, says instead of focusing on such unreliable future developments, ministers should work to reduce the overall number of flights and halt airport expansion over the next few years.

    Continue reading...

  • Analysis: Highs likely to reach mid-30s celsius in Spain and France, 10C above normal, and may break 40C

    The exceptional heatwave conditions across parts of India and Pakistan over the past few weeks have been in the news – although the region has in fact endured extreme heat since March. Through the next few days, although nowhere near as extreme as in India and Pakistan, anomalous warmth will be affecting large portions of western Europe in the first significant heat of spring.

    Throughout April, large parts of Europe experienced below-normal temperature trends, with winds often emanating from a north-easterly direction. However, over the past week or so, weather patterns have rearranged to encourage more of a south or south-westerly feed of air across Europe, and temperatures have been picking up as a result.

    Continue reading...

  • Friends of the Earth says there will be no market for Whitehaven coal as Europe’s steelmakers move to ‘green steel’

    A new coalmine proposed for Cumbria is likely to be redundant before it even opens because the steelmakers that are its target market are moving so rapidly away from fossil fuels, analysis from green campaigners claims.

    Steelmakers across Europe are moving to “green steel”, which uses renewable energy and modern techniques to avoid the need for coking coal of the type that the proposed mine in Whitehaven would produce.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds