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Pope to give Harleys his blessing

About 500,000 to attend on Sunday as Pope marks icon's
110th anniversary with a 'blessing of the motorbikes'

  • Detail of an automatic gear shifter in a new, modern car. Modern car interior with close-up of automatic transmission and cockpit background

Pope Francis hung out with a group of bikers at the Vatican on Wednesday. No, seriously.

He welcomed about 100,000 Harley-Davidson bikers to the Vatican in advance of a planned  “Blessing of the Motorbikes.”

The bikers have come to Rome from around the world to celebrate the motorcycle’s 110th anniversary. On Wednesday, organizers presented the Pope with a painting of a Harley-Davidson motorbike and showed off their iconic leather jackets and bikes to him as well.

The highlight of the five-day meeting, which began Wednesday, will be the blessing by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, with about 500,000 in attendance.

Space for 1,400 bikes will be set aside in the pedestrian piazza, and the entire length of Via Della Conciliazione, leading from St. Peter’s Basilica to the River Tiber will be turned into a giant Harley-Davidson bike park.

  • Pope to give Harleys his blessing Pope Francis (R) looks at an Harley Davidson leather jacket after the weekly audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, on June 12, 2013. AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO --- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ---HANDOUT/AFP/Getty Images
  • Pope to give Harleys his blessing Pope Francis is presented with a painting depicting a Harley Davidson motorcycle during the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican June 12, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano/Handout via Reuters (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS