By Francesco Bruno, Communications Specialist, RI Staff
While we still need to use our fantasy to search for that hidden gateway that can launch us into the future, finding one that takes you back in history is at our reach if you happen to be at the right place, at the right time. Upon entering the large wooden door of the Marinelli Foundry in the hilltop city of Agnone, Italy, it took only a few seconds to feel like I was stepping back in time. The scene I witnessed was one my ancestors could have observed a thousand years ago.
Four silent workers formed a circle inside a knee-high hole, stomping the ground with their feet and a stick attached to a 10 inch round wooden base. Their motion caused finer dust to lift into the air.
It was mid-March, and while the air outside was being cooled down by the winds that swept through the snow-capped mountains, the heat inside the foundry was rising fast as the day of the casting of The Rotary Foundation Centennial Bell was approaching.
The Marinelli family has been making bells for about a thousand years and today they still do it the traditional way, by hand and fire.
The word bell derives from the ancient God of Fire known as Baal, which means “Lord or Master.” In every age and country, the bell is a universal symbol and an instrument used to communicate, notify, alarm, summon, mark the time, and call to action. For about a century, it has been used by Rotary Clubs to mark the opening of meetings and to symbolize order and discipline.
The world-famous Marinelli foundry, the only one that was granted the use of the Pontifical seal, is owned by Armando and Pasquale Marinelli, two brothers who also happen to be Rotarians. Their passion and love for Rotary has brought them to create and donate a 110 pound ornamental bell to help celebrate the Rotary Foundation Centennial. The large and shiny bronze bell resembles the one they gifted in 2005 for the Rotary International Centennial, and which is currently kept on display at Rotary’s headquarters in Evanston. This new bell, however, is embellished with a selection of images, logos, and words which tell the story of the Rotary Foundation over the past 100 years.
Thanks to all the Italian Rotary Clubs and Districts this symbolic bell was shipped overseas. It arrived right on time to take center stage at the opening ceremony of the 2017 Rotary International Convention in Atlanta to ring in the next century of doing good in the world.
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