What is the Blessing of Bicycles
To celebrate the growing bicycling community in Washington, DC, please join us for the first annual “Blessing of Bicycles”, to be held at Church of the Ascension and St. Agnes (12th St. and Massachusetts, Ave. NW) on Saturday, May 7, at 11am. To our knowledge, this will be the first blessing of bicycles in the nation’s capital. Similar events have been held in New York and San Francisco since the mid-1990s.
A blessing is a shower of divine goodness. Our parish priest, Father Dominique, will say a prayer over all the assembled bicyclists and their bicycles. While the service is rooted in the Anglican part of the Church, all are welcome—regardless of religious (or any) affiliation, fat or thin tires, and brand of bike. We gather as a diverse community seeking blessing and protection for all who brave DC streets on two (or perhaps three) wheels.
The actual Blessing will be followed by a few words from representatives of other dimensions of the bicycling community in DC: District Department of Transportation, Washington Area Bicyclist Association, National Museum of Women in the Arts, and, finally, Mariann Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington (an avid cyclist). We will also have “blessing stations” for those who may wish a more “personal” blessing. We will close our event with two community rides (one shorter, one longer).
Your will notice an image throughout the event: Madonna de Ghisallo (patron saint of cyclists). The broadly appealing image has been produced by Cycology Gear (http://www.cycologygear.com), who has most graciously allowed us to make use of it for our purposes. Prior to the two rides, there will a time to mingle. We will be selling pizza, savory and sweet baked goods and drinks, as well as t-shirts bearing the image of Madonna de Ghisallo. All proceeds from this event will go towards making our church wheel-chair accessible (“from wheels to wheels”). Donations are also appreciated and accepted. Free spoke cards and stickers will be offered to all participants. And, by drawing, we will be giving away 25 bike lights, 12 bike bells, and 25 24-hour Bikeshare passes (generously donated by the District Department of Transportation).
Let the good times roll!
About the Madonna de Ghisallo
Legend has it that in medieval times, a local count was being attacked by bandits near the town of Ghisallo, Italy when he saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary, and running towards this vision saved him. Thus, the Madonna del Ghisallo became the patroness of travelers. Then, in 1949 a local priest managed to persuade Pope Pius XII to admit her as the patroness of cyclists. Since then, the small chapel has become a shrine to cycling legends, both living and deceased, and provides a memorial to those who have fallen in our sport.
Being an almost permanent fixture on the percorso of the Giro di Lombardia – as well as featuring regularly in the course of the Giro d'Italia – has kept the chapel in the forefront of the cycling world over the years and a collection of cycling memorabilia that would be the envy of any museum has accumulated inside. The walls of the tiny chapel are almost covered in pennants of cycling clubs from all over the world, jerseys from champions of the recent and distant past, and most prominently, a selection of bikes that have made history.
Our visual representation of the Madonna de Ghisallo comes from Cycology Gear, an Australian clothing company specializing in cycling-related clothing. They have graciously provided us the image of the Madonna to use free of charge which makes possible the spoke cards, stickers and t-shirts we'll have available at the event.