Pope Blesses ... Harley Davidsons?

Thousands of bikers jam St. Peter's Square for Mass

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 16, 2013 8:13 AM CDT

(Newser) – It was a rougher-than-usual crowd in St. Peter's Square today, with the dull roar of Harley Davidsons drowning out the "Our Father" and Pope Francis himself doling out blessings to the thousands of bikers crowding into what the AP terms "a giant Harley parking lot." The bikers were in town to honor the 110th anniversary of the legendary motorcycle brand; by some counts, the four-day celebration attracted a half-million Harley enthusiasts. The Vatican took the sea of leather in stride, with Francis giving a shout out to the "numerous participants" in the rally, and a church spokesman quipping, "I know great people who have big bikes."

Pope Francis, in green under the canopy, celebrates a mass in St. Peter's Square, Sunday, June 16, 2013. The pontiff greeted hundreds of Harley riders and blessed their motorcycles prior to the mass.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Harley Davidson motorcycles riders park their motorcycles in Via della Conciliazione leading to the Vatican, seen at top, as they wait for Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square, Sunday, June 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Harley Davidson riders park their motorcycles in Via della Conciliazione leading to the Vatican, seen at left, as they wait for Pope Francis to drive by to bless them, Sunday, June 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Harley Davidson motorcycles are parked as Pope Francis, top, arrives to celebrate mass in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, June 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Harley Davidson motorcycles parade through Rome, Saturday, June 15, 2013. Thousands of Harley-Davidson lovers are meeting in Rome to celebrate the company's 110th anniversary.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis blesses a sick person wearing Harley-Davidson garb at the end of a pro-life Mass in St. Peter's Square, Sunday, June 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
A child is handed to Pope Francis as he arrives for a Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, June 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
Harley-Davidson riders parade in Via della Conciliazione leading to St. Peter's Square during a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis, Sunday, June 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
Harley-Davidson motorcycles are parked in Via della Conciliazione leading to St. Peter's Square during a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis, Sunday, June 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
Pope Francis greets faithful as he arrives for a Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, June 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
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