led the ceremony.
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(Photos © J. Maus)
In a respectful and poignant outdoor ceremony, St. Mary’s Cathedral in Northwest Portland held their first-ever Blessing of the Bikes on Sunday.
The service opened with a hymn and continued with a series of prayers and intercessions meant to recognize and celebrate the contribution of cyclists to the community.
A large wooden cross was carried out into the courtyard and a bicycle was placed atop a table at the base of the cross. A small, yet sincere crowd of about 40 or so people had gathered under blue skies to hear the rites and take heed of the blessing.
Several times during the ceremony, bike bells twinkled gently and offered a sense of connection among those in attendance.
Unexpectedly, mayor-elect Sam Adams rolled up (on his shiny new Trek hybrid with a front basket). He said a few words at the end of ceremony and shared with us his efforts to partner with the community to improve bike safety throughout the city. “Every loss is an incredible tragedy,” he said. Adams then added that he and his staff are working to improve bike safety and that, “it happens one project at a time.”
At the end of the prayer, the bikes in attendance where splashed with holy water.
After the service, I asked Deacon Thomas Gornick for a copy of the words he shared. Here are a few of the passages where bikes where mentioned:
“Let us then, call on God to bless those who have worked on bicycles, roads, bike paths and other projects to bring people together and to protect with his gracious help those who will make use of roads, paths, bicycles and all means of transportation.”
“Through the intercession of Our Lady of Ghisallo [the Patroness of Bicycling], who watches over travelers and cyclists, may all those who ride in our community have safe journeys and be guided by a spirit of community and kindness.”
“Lord Jesus we ask your special blessing on all those who have been injured and those who died this past year while cycling…”
After that prayer, six names were read and a single church bell rang out after each one. At that moment I noticed Tracey Sparling‘s aunt (Susie Kubota) and mom (Sophie Sparling)…
Even a few bike cops showed up, hoping for a little bit of added protection while fighting crime perhaps?
— For more photos of the event check out the gallery.