The Foundry

The Marinelli Foundry

The ringing of the bells comes to us unchanged from the past, it is an eternal song, poetry, prayer, warning, invitation to sharing and brotherhood, because as Pope Francis says, “Either we are all brothers or everything collapses.”

A voice, an invocation, which is a yearning for divine mercy, for hope, a universal symbol of faith, culture, art, history, capable of underlining significant pages of human existence, of marking the time of everyday working life.

The history of the Marinelli bell founders spans the millennia; they are the only survivors of the dynasties of Agnone’s hard-working bell ringers, and since even before the year one thousand they have handed down from father to son the wonderful and unique tradition of bell ringing art.

Berengario Amorosa wrote the 1924 essay ” Il Molise,” ” The art of casting bells is an ancient specialty of Agnonese craftsmen. It goes back to very distant times. The most renowned were the Marinelli family and they were the first to study and obtain the chords of bells, making patient and interesting experiments on the metal proportions corresponding to the musical scale of the seven major tones. They, at last, achieved to make the bells ring according to the musical order.”

Tommaso Marinelli, in his “Memoir of the Art of Bells.”, published in 1888, indicates the characteristics of a good bell founder: “It is necessary in the first place that I tell you that one must be a good man, honest and God-fearing; and then that one must have some element of instruction in arithmetic, drawing, and if possible, also in geometry, without neglecting the principles of music, as far as the knowledge and distinction of sounds is concerned, should one wish to make bells in accord.”

How many chimes in the world. From the interesting and evocative center, Agnone, located in the heart of upper Molise, in the center of Italy, a long trail of chimes begins, marking moments of joy and sorrow. From the mournful chimes that commemorate the fallen of all wars( Genzano della Lucania, Antillo), to the loss of so many lives in earthquakes ( L’Aquila, San Giuliano di Puglia); from tragedies in mines ( Marcinelle, Monongah, Arsia-Istria) to attacks ( World Center New York). If one delves into the working history of the Marinellis, the list becomes endless: The bell dedicated to the victims of the Pandemic destined for the European Parliament, the bell in the square of Tirana cast using shell casings recovered from the war, the bell for the Tower of Pisa, for the churches of Piazza di Spagna and Trinità dei Monti in Rome, for NATO, for Milan Expo and a thousand others.

The history of Marinelli’s bell founders merges with that of historical and religious events, and many bells were born of the will of the Pontiffs, beginning with PIO XI, who granted the foundry the title of Pontificia in 1924.

But a book would not be enough to tell the story of the Marinelli family, of the encounters of intimate emotion and profound spirituality-such as the one with St. Pio of Pietrelcina or with the Spanish Mother Hope from the Shrine of Merciful Love in Collavalenza-or the many anecdotes that dot the thousand-year history of this incredible and wonderful Italian reality.

If you want to learn more about the history or processing steps that lead to the birth of a bell, you can access the following addresses:

Marinelli Bell Museum

From Agnone, in the heart of Upper Molise, start the chimes that spread throughout the World, it is a song
symbol of hope, faith, art, history and culture.
In the Marinelli Museum is the story of the sacred bronzes and the work of the Marinelli foundrymen, who for over a thousand
years are dedicated to this tradition.
The Marinelli Museum was the brainchild and brainchild of Patriarch of Bells Pasquale Marinelli, who
wanted to dedicate to the memory of his ancestors and future generations and in particular to his brother Hector the sculptor
of the foundry, who died very young and later named it after Pope John II, in memory of his
visit on 3/19/95.
It is one of the rare museums in the world that holds a vast collection of bells, about three hundred, from the Year
Thousand to the present day, from all bell towers, cataloged, including the oldest one from the Year 1000,
from Abruzzo, of very simple forge, lacking friezes and inscriptions, with an applied handle in
Iron instead of crown.
Each bell has its own sound, inscriptions, and friezes and constitutes a unique work of art.
Depending on the era and manufacturer, the decorations are from simple evolving more and more
complex and elaborate and reproduce Madonnas, saints, archangels, crosses; they move from the Gothic style to the
baroque, neoclassical, Art Nouveau and modern, and the content of the inscriptions is varied: prayers, news
history, names of donors and Master Founders.
The museum also wanted to preserve copies of the bells that represented historical moments
most important, as well as documents attesting to the granting of the title of Pontifical by Pope Pius XI
in 1924, a centenary that will be commemorated with a postage stamp, the coming of John Paul II of which is preserved
authentic signature, the copy of the Jubilee Bell 2000 to which the Bell of the
Jubilee 2025, merged on December 15, 2023 in the presence of His Excellency Rino Fisichella.
Also collected in the museum are damaged bells, because contrary to popular belief, the
bells may deteriorate due to weather or war phenomena.
But the museum is above all history, art and culture, a center for the study of bell art, equipped with a rich
library, starting with the oldest texts such as the 1664 edition of Girolamo Maggi’s Tintinnabulis,
called the Bible of Bell Art to the texts of the Foundry’s history edited by Gioconda Marinelli.
Conferences , book presentations and bell concerts curated by Maestro Giulio Costanzo are held in the
Museum, which is alive and integrated with the Foundry, so that visitors can move from history and tradition
to the current vision of the craftsmanship that takes place in the foundry where bells are born.