The Pueblo Chieftain

Pueblo, Colorado, Monday November 18th, 2002

The likeness of St. [Tikhon of Moscow] adorns the largest of the five bells at St. Michael's Church. [St. Paul Lasareff-Moronoff is depicted on the other side of the bell.]

The bells of St. Michael's

Russian revival rings out as dream comes true in Pueblo church

The Pueblo Chieftain

Slowly, proudly, Helen Lasareff-Mironoff traces the outline of her father-in-law's face, a saint recogonized by members of the Orthodox religion both in Pueblo and in Russia.

Years ago, St. Paul Lasareff-Mironoff was persecuted in Siberia because of his faith.

His daughter-in-law's hands stroke the bell where his profile is now engraved - a bell that will hang at St. Michael's Orthodox Christian Church and ring across Pueblo at the start of each service.

This musical instrument isn't just a remembrance of her father-in-law, though. It's a symbol of her late husband, known throughout Colorado as a choir director who energized numerous congregations.

"He helped everyone," said Lasareff-Mironoff, who emigrated with her husband from Russia in the 1940s.

"It's time he was memorialized."

The bell's history in Russia and its eventual trip to the United States is as long and bittersweet as the Lasareff-Mironoff family's own tale. 

It's journey wasn't a solo one, either. The 20-inch-diameter engraved bell traveled from Europe with four other smaller ones, all a product of Pyatkov and Co., a Russian business that hand-crafts the instruments.
Father Christopher Stanton rings the bells at St. Michael's Church during a ceremony Sunday in which five bells that were cast in Russia and recently installed at the church were blessed by Stanton.

But before the bells were played for the first time at a blessing Sunday at St. Michael's church, there was a dream.

It was Father Christopher Stanton's dream and it was a dream of bells - not the large kind that hang from roofs and steeples of American churches, but the kind that create a haunting song reminiscent of Russia's tumultuous past.

In Russia, explained Stanton, bells represented hope in churches across the country. Not only did they signify the start of the service, they rang across towns and fields so even people who couldn't attend would know which part was being spoken. They warned of war and called for celebration.

"Within the church is the people," Stanton explained. "The bells are the voice of the community."

But when Communism tore through Eastern Europe, church bells perished and wouldn't be resurrected for decades - until the Iron Curtain fell.

"When Russia became Orthodox, they immediately started making bells again," Stanton said.

It was these bells that Stanton desired, but their price - more than $8,000 for all five - was more than the tiny church could handle.

So two years ago, at about the time when Lasareff-Mironoff's husband, Eugene, died, Stanton decided to turn the bells into memorials. Families of the deceased could sponsor the bells using memorial funds.

On Sunday, the church's congregation gathered outside in unseasonably warm weather to bless the product of their hard work. Aside from family contributions, the church also sponsored fund-raisers to bring the bells - specifically made for St. Michael's - to Pueblo.

For the church, the ceremony was the start of a long birthday celebration, because in November 2003, St. Michael's will turn 100.

"We decided when you turn 100, you can celebrate for a year," Stanton said.

As Stanton and fellow congregation members rang the bells Sunday morning, the widest grin belonged to Lasareff-Mironoff, who stood with about 35 other church members.

"They're so silvery," she said. "They give you strength."


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