Pope Francis blesses Thousands of Harley-Davidson Bikers

Thousands of leather-clad bikers from around the world, some sporting 'Papa Francesco' flags, paraded through Rome on Sunday to receive a special blessing from Pope Francis, marking the 110th anniversary of the manufacturer Harley-Davidson. Earlier they had driven around the countryside, circling Lake Albano before arriving in Rome and parading past the Colosseum and other historic landmarks.

Their roaring engines nearly drowned out the Our Father that accompanied the Pope as he came through the crowds in his open-top jeep before the Mass, which was dedicated to the Gospel of Life. Once the service began, the bikers in their trademark leather Harley vests sat in the square alongside tens of thousands of other pilgrims who were taking part in a two-day pro-life rally.

Earlier in the week, Harley Davidson gave Pope Francis two white classic Harleys for the Vatican police force.

Fr Federico Lombardi, from the Vatican press office noted that there were probably quite a few Catholic riders in the crowd and that regardless, anyone is welcome to a Papal Mass. "I know great people who have big bikes," he said.

During his Angelus address, Pope Francis announced the Beatification of Oduardo Focherini, a Catholic journalist killed during World War Two for his faith. He also greeted and thanked the pro-life groups for their work and welcomed all the bikers present.

 After the Mass, Pope Francis spent about half an hour meeting with sick or disabled pilgrims in the square, including one on a motorcycle wearing a Harley vest.

 

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