"In modern Europe, as in ancient Greece, it would seem that even inanimate
objects have sometimes been punished for their misdeeds. After the revocation
of the edict of Nantes, in 1685, the Protestant chapel at La Rochelle was
condemned to be demolished, but the bell, perhaps out of regard for its value,
was spared. However, to expiate the crime of having rung heretics to prayers,
it was sentenced to be first whipped, and then buried and disinterred, by way
of symbolizing its new birth at passing into Catholic hands. Thereafter it
was catechized, and obliged to recant and promise that it would never again
relapse into sin. Having made this ample and honourable amends, the bell was
reconciled, baptized, and given, or rather sold, to the parish of St.
Bartholomew. But when the governer sent in the bill for the bell to the
parish authorities, they declined to settle it, alleging that the bell, as
a recent convert to Catholicism, desired to take advantage of the law lately
passed by the king, which allowed all new converts a delay of three years in
paying their debts.
[Sir James G. Frazer, _Folklore In The Old Testament_]