Pope Francis is shown a leather jacket by
Harley-Davidson senior vice-president Mark Hans-Richer, at the
Vatican, during the "Blessing of the Motorbikes".
Rome: If there is
anything guaranteed to dispel the last traces of Harley-Davidson's one-time
bad-boy image, it is a blessing from the Pope.
Pope Francis performed a "Blessing of the Motorbikes" on
Wednesday for thousands of Harley-Davidson owners who gathered at St Peter's
Square outside the Vatican to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the
He blessed 1400 motorcycles, which were once the favoured
ride of the Hells Angels. The pontiff was presented with two gleaming models
of the classic motorcycle and a black leather biker jacket by Mark-Hans
Richer, Harley-Davidson's senior vice-president.
High on the hog: The pontiff is presented with
a painting of a motorcycle in Saint Peter's Square.
Photo: OSSERVATORE ROMANO
But there was no sign that he was prepared to swap his
Popemobile and robes for a motorcycle and leathers as he refrained from
trying out the gifts.
Earlier, the Pope denounced the "deplorable" phenomenon of
child labour in front of a 60,000-strong crowd gathered for his weekly
address. In a message to mark the World Day Against Child Labour, he called
for more international action to tackle the "plague" of child exploitation.
"All children should be able to play, study, pray and grow
in their own families, in a harmonious environment, one of love and
serenity," he said.
The Telegraph, London