For many people in Cologne, something important will be missing at Christmas: St. Peter's bell in the cathedral, called the "Dicke Pitter" by the people of Cologne, will not ring out as usual on Christmas Eve. Because the bell gets a new suspension for the clapper.
"You can basically say that when the St. Peter's bell rings, one hundred to three hundred people gather down in front of the south tower of the cathedral just to hear this bell." This is what cathedral sexton Patrick Schroers tells us about the "Dicken Pitter," the world's largest free-swinging bell, whose deep voluminous C is the city's acoustic landmark.
But of all things something is broken now. The bell is currently without a clapper and is not expected to be able to ring for Christmas. This is also confirmed by Matthias Deml, the spokesman of the Cologne Cathedral building lodge to our site. "100 percent I can not say yet, whether it will remain silent. But I fear that it will indeed ring again only in the spring of next year."
"Fat Pitter" will probably remain silent until Easter
This could mean that the "Fat Pitter" will remain silent until Easter. The heavy clapper had already been removed from the bell in April, because something was wrong with the suspension. "We have, after all, this year made a whole series of investigations on the bell's suspension and, according to the results of this investigation, a new suspension is now just being planned, which will then have to be implemented. Since it's already November, the schedule is getting a bit tight, so I'm afraid the bell won't be heard at Christmas."
So the "Fat Pitter" will be silent at Christmas, at the turn of the year and on Epiphany. Normally it rings on these days. But under no circumstances should there be a repeat of what happened on Epiphany six years ago. At that time, the clapper broke out of the suspension and slammed into the bell tower. Even then, repairs took longer. "When the clapper was broken, the bell didn't ring for a whole year either. However, it had then rung again at Christmas. During the Second World War, however, the ringing of bells was completely forbidden," Deml said.
"Clapper does not kiss the bell precisely"
So there were more frequent times when the "Dicke Pitter" stopped. Now, however, work is being done feverishly so that the defective suspension of the clapper will be back in time as soon as possible. What exactly is broken there? The experts say that the clapper does not kiss the bell precisely. That is, it is a question of the exact point at which the clapper must strike the bell when swinging in order to avert damage to the bell in the long run. Therefore, a stable and precisely aligned suspension must now be designed. "We're on it," says Matthias Deml. "That is of course our wish, that we will hear the St. Peter's bell again with its deep C as soon as possible."