Charles George Deuther.

The life and times of the Rt. Rev. John Timon, D. D. : first Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo online

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Online LibraryCharles George DeutherThe life and times of the Rt. Rev. John Timon, D. D. : first Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo → online text (page 28 of 30)
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appear before my Judge, I here acknowledge that, having
naturally a hasty and quick temper, I did my best to subdue
and repress it, I have reason to think that in this way I might
have offended some of the venerable priests here present. If
this has been the case, I am free to say that I have acted from
no bad or malicious motives. If I have offended any one of you, I
humbly kneel at his feet and beg pardon for my shortcoming.
Pray, therefore, for me, dearly beloved clergy, as I have soon to
appear before the throne of Him Mdio is our Master and Lord."

"I hope not soon," exclaimed Father McCool.

"Yes, my child," replied the Bishop, "I feel that my time is

He was so weak then that he could scarcely stand, much less
ascend the altar without being helped. Priests told him not to
sing Pontifical high mass, but he would not be dissuaded from
doing so. At the distribution of Holy Communion, he trembled
80 much from weakness that Father Gleason, V. G., had to
receive the Ciborium from his hands, and finish the distribution
of tlie Bread of Life. A short time before he died, he wished to
see a certain rector of a German parish personally, and sent for
him to come and see him. But he waited in vain for the gentle-
man's (?) pleasure, and turning to a friend in the room, (the
Bishop was obliged almost constantly to lay on a lounge, from
debility and pain,) he said : " I have sent twice already for him,


stating that I wanted to see him badly; but he does not come.

'Now, Mr. , I have to gather my hist strength to go in my

buggy and drive to see the reverend gentleman." He pro-
nounced these words without excitement, however, although
touched by the circumstance. He was very much attached to
the seminarians. In the seminaries of Europe that he had
chanced to visit, he was often seen standing in the midst of
a group of seminarians, recounting incidents and explaining
the geographical situation not only of America, but even of parts
of Europe itself, with which he supposed it likely his young
hearers were not entirely familiar. He has been seen frequently
playing not only with the seminarians, but even with the childr'eii
behind the cathedral, on the ground where now stands the Chris-
tian Brothers' School. And we have it on good authority that
when visiting the Orphan Asylum, some of the boys were so
well acquainted with him as to mount upon his back, whilst he
went upon all fours playing and enjoying himself in their sports.
This humility really endeared him to all. On such occasions he
was very pleasant and very kind. When at home, lie went into
the confessional usually every Saturday, but after an hour or
more, a tit of coughing would compel him to leave. If un-
able to hear confessions himself, he never neglected to observe
that his priests were on time attending to their duty. Nay, the
humility of Bishop Timon was once put to a greater test. At
East Eden, where he was adjusting, or trying to adjust, some
difficulties that had occurred there, a German Catholic (perhaps
half drunk) spat in his face. But like his Divine Saviour, he
suffered this insult meekly, and wiped off the spittle without
saying a word of reproach. (Oh, admirable example of patience
and humility!) Bishop Timon used to say, "As long as a priest
is humble and obedient to his Bishop, he can easily rise again
should he be so unfortunate as to fall into faults; for after faults
have been cominitted, he can do penance and make due repara-
tion. But a proud priest never can."

This idea he entertained and pushed farther than any other
Bishop we ever read or heard of, so much so, at least, that he took


pleasure in breaking and curbing the proud sentiments of such
priests who made use of religion as a cloak for their pride.
Hence, with one or two honorable exceptions, he made frequent
changes among his Yicar Generals, in whom he thought he'found
more or less pride. These changes he justified upon the maxims
already quoted, and also from a confidence that God resists the
proud, and gives Hjs grace the to humble. " Pride," said he, " al-
ways comes before the fall." Perhaps no Bishop was more strict
than Timon about Church discipline and ceremonies. He has
left his throne in the cathedral, and, dressed in full Pontificals,
gone to the railing of the sanctuary and separated children given
to "too much talking during Divine service. In the observation of
the Rubrics, his vigilant eye could detect the slightest deviation
from the rule, and although a priest, deacon or subdeacon com-
mitted a fault during the service, he instantly sent another priest
or went himself, to correct the mistake. Singing possessed a pe-
culiar charm for him. He had no cultivated voice, though he sang
very strong and clear. He, particularly, favored the Gregorian

In his dress he was especially plain and humble. His house-
keeper told him once that he needed new shirts. But he said :
"Tlie old ones are good enough for the old Bishop yet." In
Clmrch ornaments, however, he was more precise. These could
not be fine or excellent enough.

An unfortunate circumstance once occurred at the cathedral.
A clergyman* preaclied one Sunday very eloquently from the
pulpit of the cathedral. After he had finished, the Bishop went

up to the pulpit himself, and said that, although Father had

jDreached very eloquently, he had uttered a heresy. This he
came to prove, and he proved it. Of course, it was highly oflfen-
Bive to the priest's feelings to be criticized, so much so that he
could not suppress his feelings in the presence of the Bishop after
mass. But before night, the Bishop and he were never better

*Rev. Mr. , an English gentleman, and convert to the Church.


Our pen would scarcely ever weary in recounting the mass of
incident that lies before us, descriptive of his cliaracter. As will
be seen, we have narrated the most simple details we could reacli,
in order to depict more gra^^hicall}'^ a portrait of his real interior
virtues. But Bishop Timon is now dead and gone. His memory
and the sweet odor of his sanctity is all that linger here after him
in the hearts of tlie people. Generations to come will hear of him
and his deeds, and as they read this plain narrative of his life,
will breathe a prayer that liis lot may be with the just.





As everybody with a particle of curiosity in his or her composition is of course
anxious to know all about the progress being made in the work of hanging and
adjusting the bells and machinery of the new automatic carillon at the cathedral,
we give below the information gleaned during a late visit.

From the tower floor we ascended the stairs leading to the organ loft and turning
to the right mounted another flight and a ladder, which brought us to the first floor
occupied or to be occupied by the machinery. This is lighted by the smaller arched
windows seen below the lofty barred ones of the belfry proper, which are intended
rather to let sound out than to admit light. On this floor will be placed the cylin-
der and communications, analagous to that of a Swiss music box or ordinary barrel
organ, and occupying alone a space of six by twelve feet horizontally and seven in
height. This will connect by means of simple and delicately adjusted machinery
with every bell in the tower, so that when the motive is applied any of the set
tunes in its reportoire is rung out with beautiful and unfailing accuracy. To some
likings this mechanical way of producing the music would rather '-take the poetry
out of it," but to reassure these we must say that upon this same floor will also be
a key-board, connecting by like apparatus with a set of hammers distinct from those
of the automaton.

A beautiful clock, also of European make, has arrived, and will occupy a corner
of this room, connecting by rods with the dials, nearly fifty feet above.

From this floor a ladder leads to the beginning of a labyrinthine framework, in
and upon which are hung the bells, and upon leaving which the inquisitive mind
had better take good heed- to its steps, and if not encased in an ordinarily steady
head, content itself with the moderate altitude already attained. Passing the two
larger bells which hang side by side with just room to swing clear of each other
and the walls, we mount by the frame to the next range. It is proper here to
explain that, except at the bottom, this frame does not touch the sides of the tower
and. therefore, cannot transmit the shock and vibration it sustains to anything
around it. It was at first intended to build the structure upon two immense beams
originally built into the walls where its base rests, but upon test one of these was
found quite unsound. Both were sawed off and in their stead two others were
placed with the ends resting not in the wall, but upon firmly secured projecting
stones, and braced from near the ends to a point some six feet lower, where like
projections occur, so that the strain and pressure, instead of being out at any point,
is directly downward and safely distributed.


The rest of the journey to the dial openings, slightly above which hang the high-
est of the small bells, is accomplished by clambering up the transverse bars of the
large belfry windows. Reaching a point where the lower tier of stationary bells is
below the level of the feet, we find a narrow planking upon which we stand while
the obliging manager of the work explains its various details, visible and projected.

From the joists or beams on which we stand rises on either side a perpendicular
framework, connected from centre to centre by crossbeams, on which hang the first
thirty-seven bells of the carillon. These are all sounded by means of the hammers
and key board or automaton, and do not swing. The smallest five are distributed
in the intervals between the large ones. Still below this frame work is another
of the same height, but entirely taken up by the six remaining bells, which, of
course, increase in size and weight in a rapid ratio from those just above.

From the collar of each of these on the side nearest us, or facing the rear of the
tower depend three hammers, their handles fastened to a projecting yoke by means
of cast steel straps or springs, and their faces resting at a distance of about two
inches from the rim of the bell.


A long tongue-shaped spring bolted to the yoke at the same place droops between
each and its striking point so as to catch a projection, and while allowing the ham-
mer to fall with sufiQcient force to reach the bell, is still strong enough to prevent a
repeating stroke. The hammers are drawn back by wires running from a ring in
their heads to the parallel beams next the new wall, where they will connect by
means of the usual bell-hangers' apparatus for turning an angle, with others running
to the cylinder. This triple set of hammers is necessary when the same note is to
be repeated sooner than the vibration of the first hammer would permit it to be used
again with safety and certainty. At the cylinder the wires are fastened to a row
of levers, which rest upon its surface until in its revolutions they are caught by the
pegs and drawn with force enough to spring the hammers. The hammer connect-
ing with the key-board hangs inside the bell, and is drawn against its rim by a wire
passing just beneath it. This wire connects on the outside with a small stop which,
when the key is released and the hammers fall back, is drawn or sprung against
the bell, and checks its vibration, so that a note may be held or discontinued at will
as by a similar contrivance in the piano forte. This arrangement, however, only
applies to the larger bells in the' lower lines, the small ones above being struck by
hammers fastened to the beams beneath.

Our inspection of these satisfactorily concluded, we descend by means of our rather
awkward ladder to the next floor supports below. Here on a level with our heads
are the tongues of the four next in size. These are provided with levers at the point
where they are balanced, so that a man standing by each on one of the beams on
which it is balanced may set it in motion with his foot. They are also played by
means of the above described contrivances, the hammers beinp; fastened in such a
manner that the bells swing clear of them when used in the ordinary way. Still
ten or twelve feet below are the final pair, the two monsters which swing side by



side, and whose boom and terrible swing suffice to affect with sentiments approach-
ing to awe the beholder who looks down upon them in motion for the first time. To
see and hear these six in full swing underneath one for five minutes, will materially
add to the cautiousness with which he retraces the road he has just seen blocked
and terrible with their rush and awful clangor. We know that in the path of one
of these, when in motion, fate would be simple annihilation. Fancy being struck by
nearly five thousand pounds of metal in & space where it barely has room to swing;
and we think shudderingly of a tale we once read, in which a stranger crawling
curiously among the cobwebbed lofts of an European cathedral, found himself sud-
denly driven to the wall by the first swing of a monstrous bell ; how he crouched to
avoid it, and how, for what seemed an age to him, this ponderous thunderer passed
and repassed him with a booming rush of wind that struck him like a mountain
wave, and but for a df>ath-like grip upon the timber where he lay, would have sucked
him like a fly into its track, to be crushed as easily; how he was found more dead
than alive and unable to help himself from the spot, and his dark hair streaked with
silvery gray, as a proof of the mental agony crowded into that long half hour.

But we are down at the ladder-top again and will say good-bye to our new friends
for a season. We shall continue the acquaintance at some future time when their
organization is complete, and we will end this with a few facts about these and


The only other carillon in America is in the church of Notre Dame Du Lac, at
Montreal, and numbers twenty-four bells. There are but two in existence compar-
ing with ours, as Bufifalonians will proudly call it, those of Notre Dame, at Chalons
sur Marne, France, and St. Jaques De Chatellerant, Vienna, the first of fifty-six
bells, the largest weighing 5,590 lbs., and the latter of fifty bells, the largest weigh-
ing 4,400 lbs. The former is the most complete in the world, the latter has only sevea
bells more than ours, and the largest weighs six hundred and sixty-eight and one-
quarter pounds less than our own. So that probably, all things considered, we may
dispute the right to the title of ''second best in the world" with this one.

The cost of ours, including everything when ready for use, cannot vary much
either way from the sum of one hundred thousand dollars.

The manufacturer, Mr. Ernst Bollee, includes in his catalogue the following de-
scription of noted bells in various parts of the world, from which it may be seen
that our claim to the possession of the second best carillon ever made is not without
good foundation :


N. D. De Chalons-Sur-Marne, carillon compost de 56 cl., tonique, 2,723 kil.

Les six plus grosses servent aussi de cloches paroissiales. Cylindre m^canique, clar
vier a main. Ce carillon est le plus complet du monde.

Cath6drale de Buffalo (Etats-Unis d'Amerique.) Carillon compose de 43 cloches,
tonique 2,122 kil.

Les six plus grosses servent aussl de cloches paroissiales. Cylindre m6canique, cla-
vier a main.

Chatenay (Isere.) Carillon de M. rabb6 Combalot, 19 cloches.


Swnt-Jaques de Chatellerault (Vienne. ) Carillon compose de 50 cl., tonique 2,000

L«s six plus grosses servent aussi de cloches paroissiales. Cylindre mecanique cla-
vier a main.
N. D. Dii Lac (Amerique,) Carillon a cylindre et clavier; 24 cl., g., 5,795 kil.
Nantes (Sainte-Croix.) Carillon de la ville, 12 cloches.

The foundry is at Mans, in the" Department of Sarthe, North Western France.
The composition used is 775 parts red copper and 225 of tin.

In a very short time this magnificent instrument will begin to take its part in the
daily life of our city, sending abroad its concord of sweet sounds and setting to
music the hours as they pass, adding a solace to labor and a charm to rest. The
spire above them points to the heaven of all our creeds; they are consecrated to the
worship of the one God. And when the solemn sounds of those grand services
dedicated to His worship float over the turmoil of the day, or out upon the silence
of night, may they take up with them the aspirations of all faiths in one prayer to
the Eternal Father. — Buffalo Express.

Yesterday was made musically memorable in this city, and in the country at
large, for that matter, by the consecration of the new Chime of Bells of St. Joseph's
Cathedral, the largest Carillon on the American continent, and one of the most
magnificent in the world. Our first notion of the magnitude of this chime was
derived from a letter written by one of the editors of the Courier while in Paris
during the Grand Exposition; and now that we have had an opportunity of seeing
the bells arrayed in all their glory, we can the better appreciate the enthusiasm of
our correspondent.

The late Bishop Timon contracted for the chime with Bollee & Son, of France,
a firm of bell founders who are probably unrivaled in the world. The firm was
ordered to contribute to the Paris Exposition; they had just completed these bells,
and without hesitancy they added them to the stock in trade of that exhibition,
subsequently writing an apologetic letter to those in authority here, for their deten-
tion. They remained in Paris for five months, during which time they were
operated, and the founders were complimented with a medal. They will soon be
elevated to their places, and while they swing in the tower of St. Joseph's, the name
of the revered Timon will be ind^ssolubly associated with them. A grander earthly
monument could scarcely be raised to the memory of any man.


Pontificial High Mass was commenced at 10 o'clock, the celebrant being the Rt.
Rev. Bishop Ryan, who was assisted by the following clerical gentlemen:
Assistant Priest — Very Rev. W. Gleason, V. G.
Deacons of Honor — Revs. M. Creedon and J. Durthaller, S. J.
Deacon of the Mass — Rev. J. J. Bloomer.
Sub-Deacon of the Mass — Rev. J. Fitzpatrick.


First Master of Ceremonies — Rev. W. J. McNab.
Second Master of Ceremonies — Rev. J. Rogers.
Third Master of Ceremonies — M. J. McGrath.


Bishop McQuade, of Rochester, ascended the pulpit, and announced his text:
The last Psalm of David, (ch. 160:)

Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in His sanctuary ; praise Him in the firmament of
His power.

Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him according to His mighty excellence.

Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; praise Him with the psaltery and

Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; praise Him with stringed instruments
and organs.

Praise Him upon the loud cymbals; praise Him upon the high sounding cym-

Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.

The Right Reverend Bishop then proceeded, in substance, to state that, as in
those days the people were called upon to praise the Lord with instruments of
sound, so you are to-day gathered to witness the consecration of these bells to give
praise to the Lord. Such a ceremony, and one as imposing as this, has never been
known in the land, and it may be surmised that not many now present will ever
again witness that which is to take place this morning. These bells are to be
blessed — to be consecrated — because the work given to them is a sacred one. This
temple so grand, so vast, so magnificent; that organ so loud-spoken in its harmony;
yonder sanctuary with its altars, and its ministers; all these tell of God, tell of
heaven, and proclaim the praise of the Lord, and the people who gather in these
walls, make use of these things to praise the Lord, His knowledge and His grandeur.
There stands the minister at the altar, where up to heaven go his praise and thanks-
giving; join with him, all ye people who are in the church, even as does the music
from yonder choir

These bells raised aloft to the tower of the church, domineering over the city,
will take up the words of praise, the words of glory, and carry them heavenward ;
and thus, you see, to consecrate them is the holy work of religion. To-day they
are consecrated to God, and in thus giving them to God the church blesses them as
she blesses everything she gives to God. In "the blessing of the bells," or their
baptism, the word is not correctly used, but it is understood by the people, because
the ceremonies used are similar to those used at the baptism of a child. The bap-
tism or washing of the bells is made similar to the baptism of children. The
sponsors are, generally speaking, the donors of the bell itself It is therefore an
honor bestowed on them for the work they have done. The Psalms are recited.
Holy water is then poured on them, and afterwards seven crosses are made with the
finger dipped in holy oil with which the bells are anointed. These seven crosses
Mgnify the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, that by the ringing of the bells the peo-
ple may hear them. Then the bells are anointed with chrysm three times in the


form of three crosses, to represent the virtues of faith, hope, and charity. Thus
truth and religion are to be spread over the cily, to incite the people to prayer and

The burning censers filled with incense and myrrh, are to be placed under the
bells, signifying by their odor how delightful to the christian, how fragrant in the
sight of God, are the works with which man honor Him. The Bishop who conse-
crates the bells then strikes them three times, and after him the spoosors do the

Praise ye now the Lord, who reigna above. Sound aloud His praises. Make
known how pleasant it is in the busy hour of life, to praise the Lord, remind the
people 0^ God's praises, that the world might know where is the work of God. In
the first ages of Christianity the services of religion and sacred rites were attended
to ; in many places was generally found some retired spot — as in pagan Rome,
in the Vatican and the Catacombs. In those they did not dare to proclaim publicly
the Divine service, and trusty messengers were sent to the faithful to tell them of the
services of the Lord.

In the time of Constantino the Great, when he became a christian, they made
use of a trumpet to summon the faithful to prayer and worship. But afterwards,
in the fifth century, when bells were invented and brought into use, they were the
mediums by which the hour of prayer and worship were rung out to the people.

The first idea of bells is a usetul one. It is to ring out the hour of service, and
to call the people to church. But, as in the course of time convents and monas-
teries began to spread on every hand, the civilized world became musical with the
sound of the bells. In those days religion was not an affair of Sunday, but of every
day and of every hour of the day. Religion was not confined to the recital of a
few short prayers. In those days religion made life for the people. This may be
strange to say in the nineteenth century. But in those days religion did not interfere
with man's duties, his business and his country. The more he attended to his
church, the more he worshiped God, he became a better man and a better citizen.
In those days the bells gladly rung out when the young couple came to the church
to be given in happy wedlock. In those days the bells solemnly rung out and sent
up a prayer to heaven for mercy over the soul of the departed christian. It was
like ringing from heaven to earth, for a people to know that the bells were ringing
for them.

But 300 years ago came a change, a sad change. In that land from which many
of us have come, where the people no longer have a voice, where the king, the
lords and powerful men, disabusing their power in their lust and indulgence, men
who had forgotten their God — these men took possession of the church, and robbed
its sanctuaries, and its altars of their gold, their crosses and ornaments, robbed the
towers of their bells that had sung for a thousand years the praises of God— this

Online LibraryCharles George DeutherThe life and times of the Rt. Rev. John Timon, D. D. : first Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo → online text (page 28 of 30)