Art & Architecture Gardens Cafe  

Art & Architecture: Shepard's Gate

The Shepherd’s Gate, or sheep gate, is a reference to Jesus Christ, the Shepherd of His flock, who welcomes all. The gate is the main point of entry for those entering the complex from the street.

On the south wall of the Plaza that borders Temple Street is the Carillon Wall. It contains 36 stationary bells programmed as a musical instrument to ring beautiful hymns throughout the course of the day and to call people to worship services.

There are 35 bells from St. Monica's Church in Santa Monica. When Monsignor Nicholas Connelly announced plans to build the Church in 1925, Johanna Shanahan, an elderly Irish-born parishioner who had spent most of her life in the employ of Senator John P. Jones, founder of Santa Monica, offered to give her life savings of $11,000 if the pastor would allow a carillon to be built and installed in the bell tower of the envisioned church.

Monsignor Connelly immediately instructed his architect to make whatever modifications would be necessary to accommodate the carillon. The bells were manufactured during several years in the late 1920s by Felix Van Aerschodt of Louvain, Belgium, partnered with Marcel Michiels of Tournai, Belgium.

The bourdon-bell, weighing half a ton, is the largest of the group and was engineered to strike the hours, while a second large bell counted off the half hours. Unfortunately, Mrs. Shanahan died in October of 1931, and was unable to see the bells operational.

The carillon was used only rarely after its dedication in December of 1931, mostly because of its operational complexity. On at least one occasion, it went off accidentally during the night and upset the entire neighborhood before being shut off. Connelly's dream became "Connelly's folly."

During the devastating earthquake of 1971, the bell tower at St. Monica's Church suffered structural damage and was judged unsafe to support the massive weight of the carillon. The bells were taken down and placed in storage at the San Fernando Mission.

The 36th bell, the largest of the set, comes from St. Timothy's Church in Los Angeles. It was originally one of a set of 48 commissioned by William Randolph Hearst in 1926 for the bell towers at San Simeon. It was cast in 1929 by Marcel Michiels Jr. Chimes Manufacturer in Tournai, Belgium and delivered to the Castle by 1932. At the time, however, it was discovered that only 36 bells could be installed, so the bell was warehoused at San Simeon until the mid-1950s.

The bell was delivered to St. Timothy's on September 1, 1956, arranged by an executive at Twentieth Century Studios. It is 38 3/4 inches, weighs 1200 lb, and is the musical note G.

There are two inscriptions on the bell, " Ring out the darkness of the land, Ring in the Christ that is to be" and "Ring in the valiant man and free the larger heart, the kindlier hand."

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