Annual bike blessing ceremony — Portland

Portland’s 4th Annual Blessing of the Bikes
By Portland Archdiocese

The parish of St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the Archdiocese of Portland’s Department of Evangelization announce the fourth annual “Blessing of the Bikes,” on Sunday, June 12, 2011 at 2 PM in the courtyard of the Cathedral. The parish is located at the corner of NW 18th and Couch Street in the heart of Northwest Portland, and is bordered by bike lanes on NW 18th and Everett Street. The Catholic community and parish values and raises up the contribution that cyclists make to the community and the environment. Cycling in Portland contributes a significant element to our cultural mosaic. The cyclists bring a special life to our neighborhood and city whether they ride for recreation, commuting or competition. The Archdiocese and Cathedral parish will welcome everyone to celebrate and recognize our bicycling community. Since the Blessing event in 2010, the metropolitan area has had five individuals killed in fatal accidents. The Blessing service will remember James Allen Hill, Kenneth Kevin Vanlo, Angela Burke, Bret Lewis, and Thomas Mossman.

The service will also pray for all those injured while cycling in our city. “Cyclists come from all walks of life. They are members of the parish and staff; they attend our services,” says Father George Wolf, Pastor of the Cathedral, “the Bike lanes on 18th Avenue and Everett Street direct many cyclist pass our Cathedral. We invite everyone to bring their bikes and celebrate the many miles ridden each day.”

The Portland Bike Blessing has been held each June since 2008 with cyclists coming from around the metro area. The gatherings have included members of the family of cyclist who died the previous year, City of Portland Office of Transportation, leaders from the cycling community and officers from the Portland Bureau of Police. The blessing brings together first timers and some who come every year.
“The Catholic community has a long tradition of recognizing the cyclist” said Deacon Thomas Gornick, Director of Evangelization for the Archdiocese and bike commuter. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI greeted the competitors and organizers of the Tour de France, as the riders passed through the Val d’Aosta. On October 13, 1949, Pope Pius XII formally named Our Lady of Ghisallo as the patroness of cyclists. The chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Ghisallo is located at the top of a steep hill in the Lake Como region of Italy. An eternal flame burns at the chapel in memory of those cyclists who have died.
All cyclists are invited to attend the Blessing of the Bikes, Sunday, June 12
at 2:00 pm at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Madonna del Ghisallo Patroness of Bicycling

History: Medieval legend says that Count Ghisallo was travelling near the village of Magréglio when he was attacked by highway bandits. Spotting a image of the Virgin Mary in a roadside shrine, he broke away from his attackers and ran to it. There he took refuge, pled for Our Lady’s protection – and was miraculously saved from the robbers.

Fame spreads: As the story spread, the Madonna del Ghisallo became known as patroness of local travelers. In more recent times, cyclists would often stop to rest and pray at the chapel, which is a local landmark, and is at the top of a steep hill.

Bike Shrine: After World War II, Father Ermelindo Vigano, pastor at the shrine, proposed Ghisallo as the site of an Italian shrine for bicyclists, and she was given as patroness of cyclists on 13 October 1949 by Pope Pius XII. The chapel has become equal part religious shrine, part cycling museum, with artifacts and photos from the sport. There is an eternal flame that burns there in memory of the cyclists who are no longer with us, and services each Christmas Eve and the Feast of All Souls commemorate them. The Museo del ciclismo is also on the site.

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