Hog Heaven: A Papal Blessing for 35,000 Harley Riders at Vatican City

The bikers had gathered there as part of a 4-day celebration of the American motorcycle maker's 110th anniversary.

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Stefano Rellandini / Reuters

Pope Francis blesses a sick boy who is accompanied by a Harley-Davidson biker after Mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, June 16, 2013.

The ideals of personal freedom and unbridled adventure embraced by Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders may not seem particularly compatible with those of the Roman Catholic Church, which tends to favor self-sacrifice over self-expression. But on Sunday the two groups found common ground at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, where Pope Francis blessed the 35,000 Harley riders from around the globe who had gathered there as part of a 4-day celebration of the American motorcycle maker’s 110th anniversary.

The engine noise was so loud, it made the traditional Latin rendition of the Our Father prayer inaudible, according to BBC News. And while the Argentine leader of the Catholic Church did not address the leather-clad and bandana-wearing legion by name, he did lay his hands on a disabled boy accompanied by a Harley-Davidson motorcyclist. In a show of support for the 266th Pope, some riders decorated their bikes with flags imprinted with Francis’ smiling face.

On Wednesday, Harley-Davidson gave Pope Francis two white Harleys to use in the Vatican police force. Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the papal Mass is welcome to all, telling the Associated Press, “I know great people who have big bikes.”

Here are more photos from the high-spirited gathering:

bikeharley

Stefano Rellandini / Reuters

Pope Francis blesses the Harley Davidson bikers from his Popemobile before the start of a mass outside Saint Peter’s Square in Rome, June 16, 2013.

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ALBERTO PIZZOLI / Getty Images
8 comments
teddyrodo
teddyrodo

The Vatican - just another dirty neck biker gang ...

beverlyturner50
beverlyturner50

So, I read a comment somewhere else that mentioned this was the pope blessing hell's angels. Made me think - how 'bout you???

Ol'Bob
Ol'Bob

Y'know - I'm starting to like this Pope...

notsotupelohoney
notsotupelohoney

I saw the Harley Davidson signs during this Mass.  They were so huge as to be disconcerting, and a distraction.  It made me angry, then, I remembered that Americans think every event is just another opportunity to troll for money.

This was the first time I had seen advertisements at Vatican Masses.

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@notsotupelohoney  

hasn't the catholic church kept itself afloat for 2,000 years by trolling for money (asking members for up to 10% of their yearly income) at events (mass)? or does that not count since it's in the name of religion and it's not just america where it happens?

teddyrodo
teddyrodo

@notsotupelohoney You must not have been on the inside where any and every group of two or more Catholics get constantly solicited for money, money, money,  money, money, money,  money, money, money,  money, money, money,  money, money, money,  money, money, money,  money, money, money,  money, money, money,  money, money, money,  money, money, money, etc etc etc