The Wheel Presence: Oregon Prepares for the Blessing of the Bikes

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The Catholic Archdiocese of Portland and the parish of St. Mary’s Cathedral will hold their annual blessing of the bikes at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 9, in the cathedral courtyard. The 30-minute rite is open to the bicycling community and the public at large.

“Portland is a platinum cycling city,” says Deacon Thomas Gornick, director of evangelization for the archdiocese and a member of the cathedral parish. “St. Mary’s is bounded by the bike lanes in 18th Avenue and Everett Street. Many cyclists daily pass our church. We invite everyone to bring their bikes and celebrate the many miles ridden each day.”

In recent years, a number of churches and individual congregations in the Portland area have started to bless bicycles.

On October 13, 1949, Pope Pius XII named Our Lady of Ghisallo, an apparition of Mary, as the patroness of cyclists. A medieval count was attacked and said that an apparition of Mary had saved his life. Tradition says he built the chapel high on the top of a hill in the Lake Como region of Italy and Mary became known as the protector of travelers. In more recent times, cyclists would stop to rest at the shrine. An eternal flame burns at the chapel in memory of cyclists who have died.


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