The atmosphere in the streets surrounding the Vatican is normally quiet and relaxing. But this week, an unmistakeable loud chopping sound filled the air around St. Peter's. Rome was chosen to host celebrations for the 110th anniversary of American manufacturer Harley-Davidson. Thousands of motorbikes have gathered in the Eternal City for a chance to meet with fellow enthusiasts, but most of all, to receive a very special blessing.
“We're from Belgium; we are part of a Harley Davidson club. We've traveled for less than 2,000 miles. It took us four days. We are celebrating the manufacturer's 110th anniversary and we want to see the Pope. Our base is near Rome. It's going to be three days long, all to celebrate Harley-Davidson.”
To see the Pope, some riders have made the journey alone, some have traveled in groups. And distance is certainly not a problem for them. This group came all the way from St. Petersburg, Russia.
“Our travel was very long. We are going from St. Petersburg to Germany, Germany to Milan and from Milan, from Genoa to Rome. It was two days.”
To kick off the celebration Harley-Davidson gave two motorcycles to Pope Francis. But it didn't stop there. He was also given a leather biker jacket, that represents freedom. Among the gifts, there was also a painting of priests admiring a motorcycle, right before St. Peter's Square. Pope Francis is scheduled to bless more than one thousand motorcycles just before Sunday's Angelus Prayer.