ST JOHN´S BELLS
“On national days, when the sun is about to set, and people from the capital city leave lonely streets and households to go for a walk in order to wear their best clothes and relax their bodies and mind after a hard day’s work, we like wandering through the streets. Although silent, we think we hear the echo of stories, legends and tales of past times.
Yesterday, a distant yesterday, after climbing through Jerusalem and the Atalaya, we went down by Peñas´s door, and when we reached St Martin´s church, we heard some harmful screams, making us pause mid step.
We looked around and up; but we did not see any human being who could have made such complaints.
-Have you heard? – We asked an old funny woman who went up María Virlares´street (today Brillares) -. Have you heard, old funny woman, that without any doubt you go to St Michael´s in search of forgiveness and salvation of your soul?; have you heard -we repeat again- those harmful screams we heard?
–Where do they come from?
–From there—she says pointing to St Martin´s church.
—But– there is nobody there……..
_ No, there are only the bells.
_ Hey you, Sir, listen to this couplet which is circulating.
And immediately she mentions this lyrical poem of a mysterious song:
The bells of St John´s
since they are in Saint Martin´s,
don´t stop saying ding-dong,
and they always repeat dong-ding.
And it is said they will always be
repeating till the end:
take us away from St Martin´s
and bring us back to Saint John´s.
Surprised, we asked her what was the meaning of those mysterious couplets, and she informed us that, some days ago, the bells from Saint John´s parish, which were some centuries ago in a bell gable of a house which has the same name of the street, were moved to St Martin´s church. And since then, during the day, and above all in the silence of the night, some pitiful moans can be heard
and it was found out that they came from the bells. And people have already understood what their sound means.
We left that informative, old woman, and thinking about the reason of this decision, we walked till we arrived, some moments later, in front of the bell-gable where the bells had been.
What sad impression that house made on us, alone, without the bells which for many centuries had been their mates!
What aspect of a “skull”, with their empty orbits, that bell-gable had where the bells were!
What thoughts would those bells placed there inspire in the visitors! What memories would those bells evoke to the people aware of Compostela! What sublime thoughts would that beautiful combination: bells, house, bell-gable, narrow and devious streets filled with centenary houses inspire!
Why erase these beautiful pictures of history and colour?
We thought we could relax in our surveillance of the preservation of everything which is archaic, worshipped and respectable that exists in Compostela; but it is not possible.
We will go back to the point, and with all the deserved and due respect, we will ask anyone who can answer us: why have those bells been moved from the place where they previously were for many centuries?; Is the reason so important, that it is not possible to bring them back to their original place?
If some details like that are being changed, which seems irrelevant, the old city of Compostela will soon be like any town of the present century.”