PHILADELPHIA - Bells rang from the tower of St. Peter's Church in Society Hill Monday drawing people to the snow-covered courtyard saddened over the more than 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19 in the United States.
A woman who didn't want to show her face says she stopped for meditation. Like many of us, the pandemic has personally affected those closest to her.
"I had a grandmother who died in the 1918 pandemic and friends who died very early in the 2020 and have had a number of close friends and family affected. I think this is just an opportunity for me to give thanksgiving for their lives," she said.
Others didn't want to talk but came with teary eyes and heavy sadness. Inside the church, parishioner Ben Cornelius sounded the bell 500 times for the 500,000 victims. The church is in the process of having the bells repaired and the bell clappers have been removed.
Cornelius says he couldn't fathom not participating in this somber moment along with churches all over the country so he found a way to still ring the bell himself by hand. He used a clapper from a locomotive bell he had at home that belonged to his grandfather. Cornelius also works for the railroad.
"It's somber. There's a sadness associated with tolling and the tolling of bells. But bells are also hopeful and to hear them it sort of brings the neighborhood and the community together in a sense of hope that we will get through this," he said.
St. Peter's actually began ringing its bells in the evening after it closed and went virtual last March due to the pandemic. Just to let people know they are still there and to bring hope to the neighborhood.
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