St. Petersglocke

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Petersglocke, with person for scale

Saint Peter's bell (orig. German: St. Petersglocke,[1] referred to in the Colognian language as Decke or Dekke Pitter[2] and in common parlance as Dicker Pitter[3] i.e. Fat or Big Peter) is the largest bell in Cologne Cathedral. It was cast in 1923 by Heinrich Ulrich in Apolda and hangs in the belfry of the south tower. With a weight of approximately 24,000 kg, a clapper weighing ~700 kg and a diameter of 322 cm, it is the largest (horizontally mounted) freely swinging ringable bell in the world.

Sound of the bell

When the bell was cast in 1923, the bell-founder refused to take German marks as a payment because of the hyper-inflation. Instead the Cathedral Chapter paid 5000 US dollars. The predecessor of the bell was the "Emperor's Bell" (orig. German: Kaiserglocke) or Gloriosa ("Glorious") of 1873 which at 27,180 kg was even heavier than the St. Peter's bell. In 1918 it was melted down, because of the poor sound quality and the inadequate tone. Its metal was used for war purposes. During its thirty-year life it had regularly been put out of service to attempt to fix the inappropriate sound. Because of this the bell was nicknamed Große Schweigerin, or "big silence".

The crack[edit]

In 1951, a 110 cm long crack appeared on the bell. It was welded in 1956 by the company Lachenmeyer from Nördlingen. After repairs, the bell received a new, lighter clapper (approx. 600 kg[4]), and it was rotated approximately 20 degrees so that the clapper did not strike the damaged area.

The broken clapper[edit]

On 6 January 2011, the approximately 800 kg clapper of the bell broke and dropped on the floor below. As it could not be repaired, a new one was cast and was installed in December of the same year. It was later discovered that the accident happened because the clapper had not been correctly installed in the 1950s, thus increasing wear, which consequently led to material degradation. The new clapper weighs approx. 600 kg and is 3.20 m long. It was installed on 2 December 2011, and was first rung on 7 December 2011.

Ringing ordinance[edit]

St. Petersglocke is only rung on special occasions and on solemnities (s. u.).[5] The declaration or death of an Archbishop of Cologne or of a Pope, as well as the investiture of a new archbishop also warrant tolling St. Peter. All bells of the cathedral rang on the eve of 28 March 1936, a Friedensappell ("peace appeal") of Hitler, which he made in Cologne due to the Reichstag elections.[6] Likewise, the St. Petersglocke declared the end of World War II above the ruins of the city of Cologne in 1945, and in 1990 the reunification of Germany. As a rule, St. Petersglocke rings solo for ten minutes before all the others, which join in accordance with the general ringing ordinance. However, not all South Tower bells will be rung every time. For the Feast of the Immaculate Conception bells 1–6 are rung and for the Christmas Eve Vigil bells 1–3.

Date/Day Time Reason
7 December 19:30 Pre-Ringing for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary[7]
8. December 09:35 Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Sundays)
18:05 Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Weekdays)
24 December 19:15 Pre-Ringing for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord on Christmas Eve
23:05 Christmas Vigil on Christmas Eve (together with the Pretiosa und Speciosa)
25 December 09:35 Christmas Day
1 January 00:00 Pre-Ringing for the new Year (Full chimes)
5 January 19:30 Pre-Ringing for the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
6 January 09:35 Epiphany of the Lord/Three Kings' Day
Holy Saturday ≈23:15 Glory of Easter for the Easter Vigil (Full chimes)
Easter Sunday 09:35 Resurrection of the Lord
Eve of Ascension Day 19:30 Pre-Ringing for Ascension Day
Ascension Day 09:35 Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
Pentecost Eve 19:30 Pre-Ringing for the Solemnity of Pentecost
Pentecost 09:35 Solemnity of Pentecost
Eve of Corpus Christi 19:30 Pre-Ringing for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi[8]
Corpus Christi 09:35 Solemnity of Corpus Christi
Procession and
Entrance of the Blessed Sacrament
Solemnity of Corpus Christi (rung solo)
28 June 19:30 Pre-Ringing for the High/Patronage Feast of St. Peter and Paul
29 June 09:35 High/Patronage Feast of St. Peter und Paul (Sunday)
18:05 High/Patronage Feast of St. Peter und Paul (Weekdays)
31 October 19:30 Pre-Ringing on All Hallows Eve[9]
1 November 09:35 All Hallows/All Saints' Day



  1. ^ German pronunciation: [ˌzaŋkt ˈpeːtɐs ˌɡlɔkə]
  2. ^ [ˌdekə ˈpitˑɐ] (About this sound listen)
  3. ^ German pronunciation: [ˈdɪkɐ ˈpɪtɐ]
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 February 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  5. ^ Läuteordnung 'Dicker Pitter'
  6. ^ Apoldaer Tageblatt, 27 March 1936.
  7. ^ Einläuten zu Maria Empfängnis (7 December 2006): Teil 1; Teil 2.
  8. ^ Einläuten zu Fronleichnam (6 June 2007): Teil 1; Teil 2; Teil 3.
  9. ^ Einläuten zu Allerheiligen (31 October 2006): Teil 1; Teil 2; Teil 3.

Coordinates: 50°56′28″N 6°57′26″E / 50.9411°N 6.9573°E / 50.9411; 6.9573