In a famous free town of the Holy Roman Empire the so-called “Market Bell” rang three times on its own on March 27, 1686. A prominent gentleman of the town council, who was distinguished and bore the title Marktherr, died immediately.
The solemn tones of a bell began to sound six or seven weeks before the death of a gentleman of a prominent German house, and at two different times. Because the gentleman was still young and healthy, but his wife lay sick in bed, he forbade the servants from saying anything to her out of concern she would become fearful and being seized by melancholy, would become even sicker and perhaps die. But the warning was actually for him; he soon went to the grave but his wife recovered to full health. Seven weeks later, when she was cleaning her dear spouse’s garments and coats and was brushing them out, the Tennen Bell began to swing by itself and sounded out the familiar ring. Eight days later the oldest son became ill and died in a few days. When the widow married again and had several children with her second husband, they died and were buried a few weeks after birth; they faded just like the March flowers. The bell had been pulled three times in a row, although the room in which it hung was locked and no one could reach the cord.
Some believe this ringing is done by evil spirits (often, the ill and dying do not hear the tolling bell, it is only heard by others). But others believe the bells are rung by benevolent angels. Still others say guardian angels ring the bell and remind people to prepare for their coming end.
Fairy Tale Factum
The wife in this saga is following a folk tradition that apparently was prevalent in the Ansbach region of Germany. According to custom, the clothing of a deceased person must be promptly washed and cleaned. If this does not happen, the departed will not find eternal rest.
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