Pope Francis blessed a large group of Harley-Davidson owners on Sunday as they celebrated the motorcycle company’s 110th anniversary.
The bike lovers were in Rome for a celebration of the company and joined several thousand people in St. Peter’s Square–including a large group of nuns and some who were in the area for a separate pro-life rally–to receive a blessing and an address by the Pope.
Francis was the lucky recipient of two classic white Harleys earlier in the week after the company sent them for the Vatican police. Last year, Willie G. Davidson–grandson of one of the company’s founders–his son, Bill Davidson, and Pope Benedict XVI kicked off this year’s celebration by blessing and signing two motorcycle gas tanks which were mounted onto two bikes; one went to the company’s hometown of Milwaukee to be displayed at the Harley-Davidson Museum, while the other was auctioned off to support the Good Samaritan Foundation.
According to MotorcycleUSA.com, “The Harley-Davidson 110th Anniversary is a year-long, global celebration of the enduring ideals that unite independents everywhere: freedom, rebellion and authenticity. The year-long celebration features 12 anniversary experiences the company will bring to existing motorcycle events in global markets through September 2013. The events span 11 countries on six continents.”
“The 110th Anniversary Celebration will be a rockin’ party and so much more,” Ken Ostermann, Harley-Davidson’s General Manager of International Marketing Operations, said last year. “Along with next year’s 110th Anniversary events around the world, the event in Rome is truly the most epic way we can show our thanks for the 110 years of riding and fun our passionate fans have given Harley-Davidson. We’re anticipating next year’s celebration in Rome to be one of the largest events we’ve ever held outside the U.S. That is a strong testament to our continued global transformation as we respond to our growing fan base all over the world.”