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Background: Harvard has a set of 18 Russian bells purchased from the Soviet government in 1930, one of only five complete, intact sets of pre-revolutionary Russian bells left in the world. They came from Moscow's oldest monastery, which is now also the Patriarch's residence. The monastery has been trying to get the bells back for the past 20 years, but they have become part of Harvard's culture too, and the university is not just hoping to get rid of them. Also, the towers would have to be dismantled in order to remove them. Nonetheless, the dialogue has been amicable, and Harvard is willing to entertain the idea of their return.
Talks on return of bells of Svyato-Danilov monastery to Russia
A delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church will start talks with the authorities of Harvard University on the return to Russia of 18 old bells of the Svyato-Danilov monastery in Boston on Friday.
The Svyato-Danilov monastery founded by Prince Daniil of Moscow in the 13th century had the most famous belfry in Moscow after the Kremlin. In 1930 the Soviet authorities closed the monastery, shot its abbot and monks and confiscated the property.
Remelting threatened the bells of the monastery. However, American industrialist Charles Crane purchased them at the suggestion of Thomas Whittemore, a professor of Harvard University. The Soviet Government sold the bells at the price of bronze. Since 1931 they have been announcing different events in the life of Harvard University.
The talks with Harvard's Vice President Alan Stone and Professor Diane L. Eck, the co-Master of Lowell House where the bells are kept, will last for four days, Archimandrite Alexis Polikarpov, the abbot of the Svyato-Danilov monastery, told RIA Novosti. On December 8 the sides will issue a joint statement.
"This year marks the 700th anniversary of the death of St. Daniil, Prince of Moscow. This is an important date for our monastery, Moscow and all Russia. St. Daniil in not only the founding father of our monastery but also a statesman who consolidated Russia's territories. So, the destiny of both Orthodox and state shrine is at issue," the archimandrite said.
According to experts, the belfry of the Svyato-Danilov monastery has the best quality. The oldest bell was presented to the monastery by Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich in the 16th century. The weight of the two main bells is 12 and 6 tons.
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