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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Monastery Bells Agreement Finalized

MTSean Buffington and Archimandrit Alexy exchanging copies of the agreement at a signing ceremony on Tuesday.
The Orthodox Church and Harvard University signed a final agreement Tuesday transferring historical church bells from the Massachusetts university to‑the Danilovsky Monastery in Moscow.

The set of 18 bells, which has been hanging for more than 70 years at ­Harvard, is set to return to the monastery in August in line with the agreement.

U.S. industrialist Charles Crane bought the bells, which had hung at the Danilovsky Monastery for 200 years, from the Soviet government and gave them to Harvard in 1930.

"We are thankful to Americans for saving these bells from melting by the Communists," Patriarch Alexy II said at the signing ceremony. Archimandrit Alexy and Sean Buffington, ­Harvard's associate provost for arts and culture, signed the agreement.

Buffington said the bells had ­become a part of Harvard, but "we decided to return them to Russia, and we are proud of that."

Metals mogul Viktor Vekselberg's Link of Times foundation is financing the return of the bells and production of replacements for Harvard's Lowell House.

Vekselberg would not say how much his foundation has had to pay for return of the bells to the monastery and production of replacements at a plant in Voronezh.

"These bells are priceless for Russia, and we'd pay any price to get them back," he said.