This Monday, Nov. 11, at 11:11 a.m., St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School will celebrate Armistice Day with an 11-minute ringing of the St. Andrew’s Chapel “Chocolate Bells.” The annual ritual commemorates the sacrifices of our veterans, is a celebration of peace, and serves as a token of thanks to those who provided the bells for the school’s bell tower. Community members are invited to join SAS students, faculty, and staff in ringing the bells.
The ritual of ringing the “Chocolate Bells” began in 1918. Before World War I ended, the women in a small Episcopal church in Morristown, N.J., began collecting money to send chocolates to American soldiers overseas. When the war ended, they decided to allocate the balance of their “War Time Chocolate Fund” to some other worthy cause. Through one of their parishioners, they heard about St. Andrew’s School, an Episcopal boarding school in Sewanee, which had recently completed building a chapel but lacked money for bells in the bell tower.
The churchwomen sent the money for three bells as an Armistice Thanksgiving and asked that the bells be dedicated to three archangels—Uriel, Raphael, and Michael. In return, the school agreed to ring the bells for 11 minutes on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at 11:11 a.m. every year in memory of those who died in World War I and as a prayer for peace. It is an especially poignant event because SAS welcomes students from around the world, including Germany and Japan, who participate in the event.
The St. Andrew’s Chapel is the heart of the school’s campus. The oldest building on campus, the school celebrated the centennial of the building in 2013 and its renovation and rededication in 2016. The school community meets in the Chapel for a Eucharist service every Monday morning and for various all-school meetings and special events.