Pope Francis blessed thousands of bikers at an open air mass in St Peter’s Square – and then joined the Hells Angels.
The Hells Angels stood out like a sore thumb among a crowd of thousands at a mass for Evangelium Vitae day in Vatican City. As part of a three-day celebration of the 110-year anniversary Pope Francis blessed the Hells Angels and then… joined the group.
Engines were rumbling when the Mass started.
During the homily, Francis cautioned that ‘power and pleasure’, among other things, lead to God being ‘replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death.’
A 25-mile Hells Angels parade from the port city of Ostia through central Rome on Saturday prompted some residents to complain about the traffic and noise. Thundering Harley engines nearly drowned out the Latin recitation of the “Our Father” prayer that accompanied Francis as he greeted the crowd before Mass. Standing in his open-top jeep, Francis drove up the main boulevard leading to St. Peter’s Square, blessing the thousands of people in what was a giant Harley parking lot.
Some estimates say a half-million Hells Angels from around the world descended on Rome for the four-day anniversary of Harley-Davidson.
The Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi noted that there were probably quite a few Catholic riders in the crowd and that regardless, anyone is welcome to a papal Mass.
“I know great people who have big bikes,” Lombardi quipped.