Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was the first person to ring a set of treasured bells after their return to the Danilov Monastery, the seat of the Moscow Patriarchate, from Harvard University, where the bells had spent decades following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.
Patriarch Alexei II of the Russian Orthodox Church blessed the bells and, in an address to dignitaries and Orthodox Christians who had thronged to the Sept. 12 ceremony at the white-walled monastery near central Moscow, said he hoped the relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and Harvard would continue.
“Today we express profound thanks to all the participants in this project who have worked both in the United States and in Russia,” the patriarch said, according to the Web site, www.patriarchia.ru.
The 18 bells ended up at Harvard after the Soviet government sold them as scrap metal to a U.S. industrialist, Charles Crane, in 1930. Mr. Crane bought the bells to save them from being melted down, and donated them to Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., where their ringing out from a tower became one of the institution’s most familiar sounds.
The first one to return arrived at the monastery in 2007.
The other 17 bells reached Moscow on Sept.10, after a journey to St. Petersburg by ship from the port of New York, and then overland to the Russian capital.