Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
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The ancient custom in Catholic localities of ringing the church bell slowly when a death is imminent in a parish. When the sick person is near death, the solemn tones of the bell remind the faithful of their Christian duty to pray for the person's happy death. After the death, another bell tolls out the person's age--one short stroke for each year.