The Washington National Cathedral tolled its 12-ton bell 500 times in memory of the approximately 500,000 Americans who have died due to COVID-19 on Monday.
The cathedral, affiliated with The Episcopal Church and is known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City, livestreamed the event in the afternoon. The ceremony included prayers and reflections from individuals representing multiple faith traditions.
Rev. Canon Jan Naylor Cope, provost of the National Cathedral, read a passage from the Book of Common Prayer.
“We thank you for giving them to us,” she read from the prominent Anglican Communion liturgical resource, “to know and to love as companions on our earthly pilgrimage.”
“In your boundless compassion, console us who mourn. Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth, until, by your call, we are reunited with those who have gone before; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Rabbi Shira Stutman of the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue of Washington, D.C., recited what is known as the Mourner’s Kaddish, a notable Jewish prayer.
“This gesture cannot replace the lives lost, but we hope it will help each American mourn the toll of this pandemic,” explained the Cathedral in a statement.
The National Cathedral had previously rung their funeral bell for past milestones reached in the United States death toll from the coronavirus pandemic.
For example, in December, the house of worship tolled the 12-ton bell 300 times when the U.S. reached the 300,000 mark for people who had passed away due to complications from COVID-19.
Cathedral Dean Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith said in a statement at the time that “the climbing death toll from this pandemic seems disturbingly routine.”
“I have grown weary of tolling this bell. I don’t want to toll this bell anymore. I don’t want to lose any more lives. I don’t want us to think this is normal or that it is just the price we must pay for living in a free society,” stated Hollerith in December.
“We have reached the point in America where the death toll from COVID-19 for just one day was the equivalent of 16 fully loaded 737 jets falling from the sky.”
President Joe Biden gave remarks at the White House to honor the 500,000 who have died from COVID-19. He offered a moment of silence.
“This nation will smile again. This nation will know sunny days again. This nation will know joy again. And as we do, we will remember each person we’ve lost, the lives they lived, the loved ones they left behind,”Biden stated Monday.
“We will get through this, I promise you. But my heart aches for you — those of you who are going through it right now. May God bless you all, particularly those who have lost someone. God bless you.”