The bells of St. Stephen’s

With its 22 bells St. Stephen’s cathedral has Austria’s biggest set of bells and one of the biggest ensembles worldwide.

 

11 bells of the south tower

­In 1945 the old „Pummerin“, located in the south tower, was destroyed during the fire of St. Stephens. After the new Pummerin found its place in the north tower 11 new bells, made in 1960 by the bell foundry Joseph Pfundner in Vienna, where installed in the south tower. The chimes are complementary to the pitch of the Pummerin. It was All Saints day 1960 when these bells were first rung.

1. St. Stephen (5.700 kg), pitch: g

2. St. Leopold (2.300 kg), pitch: c'

3. St. Christopher (1.350 kg), pitch: e-flat'

4. St. Leonard (950 kg), pitch: f'

5. St. Joseph (700 kg), pitch: g'

6. St. Petrus Canisius (400 kg), pitch: b'

7. St. Pius X (280 kg), pitch: c''

8. All Saints (200 kg), pitch: d''

9. St. Clemens Maria Hofbauer (120 kg), pitch: f''

10. St. Michael (60 kg), pitch: a''

11. St. Tarcisius (35 kg), pitch: c'''

  

6 historic bells of the northern "Heidenturm"

The Northern Heidenturm (Roman Tower) is the only tower that was not destroyed by the fire in 1945, therefore the six historic bells are still in use and every Saturday and Sunday they herald the Vesper at 16.50.

1. the Kantnerin from 1552, new cast in 1772, pitch d-sharp', called the cantors to mass

2. the Fehringerin, cast in 1772, pitch f-sharp', was rung on Sunday at high mass. Today you can hear the bell every Sunday after the Angelus at 8pm as memory to the deceased.

3. the Bieringerin from 1546, new cast in 1772, pitch g-sharp', gave the signal for the beer taverns near the Cathedral to close. Today it is used the same way during the „Stefflkirtag“ in May.

4. the Churpötsch, cast in 1772, pitch c'', was rung for rosary devotionals (the name probably comes from a foundation established by the archbishopric curia, in honour of the Madonna of Pócs). Today it rings every Saturday after the Angelus at 8 pm.

5. the Chorglöckl, cast in 1280, pitch g’’, also called „Little bell of St. Stephen’s“. This is the oldest bell in Vienna. Every Friday it chimes after the Angelus at 8 pm as memory of all victims of war and violence.

6. the Feuerin from 1453, new cast in 1859, pitch: d-sharp', was rung whenever there was a fire in the city. Today the bell can be heard every Thursday after the Angelus at 8 pm.

 

Historic bells in the southern "Heidenturm"

The Southern Heidenturm was home to two bells: the „Viertel-Pummerin“ and the „Zwölferin“. In WW 2 the whole tower was burned-out and both bells got destroyed.

  

The Pummerin 

Austria’s most famous bell, the Pummerin (real name: Marienglocke, after St. Mary), hangs in the north tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral and is the second-largest bell in Western Europe. 

The nickname "Pummerin" (Boomer) was inspired by the deep sound produced by the bell when it is struck. It was cast to replace an older bell of the same name which was destroyed in the fire at the cathedral in 1945.

The original was cast in 1711 from captured Turkish cannonballs, weighing 22.500 kg. The present-day bell, cast at the bell foundry of St. Florian in Upper Austria, weighs 21.383 kg, has a diameter of 314 cm and is 294 cm tall including its crown. The bell wall is up to 23 cm thick. 

The Pummerin (pitched at c + 4/16) was cast on 5 November 1951. On 26 April 1952 it was blessed by Cardinal Innitzer, and in October 1957 it was finally hung in the north tower.

The Pummerin chimes on the following occasions: New Year’s, Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday, Whitsun, Corpus Christi, All Souls’ Day, Christmas Eve and St. Stephen’s Day, as well as for the devotional service at the end of the year and the anniversary of the Cathedral's dedication (23 April). It is also rung on special occasions (including the death or appointment of the pope, the death or appointment of the Archbishop, and the funeral of the Cathedral Priest).

 

Two bells in the spire of the south tower

1. the Primglöcklein, cast in 1771, pitch g'', chimes every 15 minutes. 

2. the Uhrschälle, cast 1449, pitch c-sharp', still hang and ring out the hours.

 

Two silent historical bells

Two historical bells were not reinstated after WW 2 and are kept near the Pummerin:

 - the Speisglocke from 1613, new cast in 1772, pitch c'', was used as a funeral bell.

 - the Zügenglocke from 1803, new cast in 1803, pitch e-flat'', rung when a dying person was in their final throes.

 

The ringing schedule at St. Stephen’s:

Sounds:

The ringing at St. Stephen's - Youtube  
The ringing at St. Stephen's before 1945 - Youtube

The old Pummerin - Youtube

 


Sources:
 

St. Stephen’s Cathedral Archive 

Flieder-Loidl, "Stephansdom. Zerstörung und Wiederaufbau" (St. Stephen's Cathedral. Destruction and Reconstruction), Vienna 1967

Gruber Reinhard H., "Die Domkirche St. Stephan zu Wien" (The Cathedral of St. Stephen's in Vienna), Vienna 1998

Rejda Georg, “Die Glocken von St. Stephan” (The Bells of St. Stephen’s), Vienna, undated manuscript

Domany-Hirsch, "Orientierung und Symbolik", Vienna 2012

Wintermeyer Hans, "Die Glocken zu St. Stephan" (The Bells of St. Stephen’s), Vienna 2013