Pope Francis arrives to celebrate mass in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, June 16, 2013. The pontiff greeted hundreds of Harley Davidson riders and blessed their motorcycles prior to the start of the mass. The riders are gathered in Rome for a four-day event to celebrate the motorcycle company's 110th anniversary. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
VATICAN CITY — Biker culture has come to the Vatican.
Pope Francis on Sunday blessed thousands of Harley Davidsons and their riders as the American motorcycle manufacturer celebrated its 110th anniversary with a loud parade and plenty of leather.
Thundering Harley engines nearly drowned out the recitation of the “Our Father” prayer in Latin that accompanied Francis as he greeted the crowd before Mass. In St. Peter’s Square, bikers in their trademark leather Harley vests sat alongside nuns and tens of thousands of faithful Catholics taking part in an unrelated, two-day pro-life rally, the centerpiece of which was Francis’ Mass.
Francis addressed them both after Mass, giving a blessing to the “numerous participants” of the Harley rally.
Tens of thousands of Harley owners from around the world descended on Rome for the anniversary.