Sunday, October 24, 2021

Bless those bikes

Monument at Madonna del Ghisallo.

Monument at Madonna del Ghisallo.

By Matt Walthour

A wonderful idea was mentioned to me a few years ago from friend and fellow cyclist Kyle Bennett. He mentioned that we should do a “blessing of the bikes,” a non-denominational blessing where the locals can gather after season slows down and have their bikes blessed and enjoy some camaraderie with fellow cyclists, and even reflect on those cyclists who may have fallen the past year. I thought you know that’s a great idea, they do blessing of the animals at my church and others; they bless motorcycles, so why not bless the bicycles? So Kyle went with it.

It seemed like a natural fit coming from Kyle since he is an avid cyclist himself, who competed, completed and did very well in the 2010 Great Floridian Triathlon and well, it is also a bonus that he is the Pastor of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Marco. He also mentioned that he has done the blessing of the fleet at the Marco Island Yacht club, so why not bless another mode of transportation?

The more I thought about this idea it seemed only a natural thing to bless bicycles, after all there is a Patron Saint of bicyclists. Huh? You say? A Patron Saint for bicyclists? It is true or should I say E’ Vero? Since this Patron Saint, Madonna Del Ghisallo is Italian. Madonna Del Ghisallo is a hill in Magreglio near Lake Como, Italy; it is named for the apparition of Mary there. The legend has it that in mediaeval times, a local count of Ghisallo was being attacked by bandits when he saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary, and running towards this apparition 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.

Some time had

Church of “Madonna del Ghisallo” located on a hill in Magreglio, Italy. Submitted photos

Church of “Madonna del Ghisallo” located on a hill in Magreglio, Italy. Submitted photos

passed since Kyle and I had talked about the blessing of the bikes idea and then one day Kyle said how about the “Blessing of the Bikes Coffee House”? The event he said could be held at the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Parish Hall. We thought anyone interested could pedal up or transport their bicycles to the event and enjoy some live music by Shane Totten and friends, and also enjoy pastries and beverages along with all the other fellow cyclists and, of course, get their bicycles blessed.

Last year’s blessing event went off without missing a gear. The food was great, the music was spectacular and even some of the local youth joined in and sang along as well. It really was a great day and the event could not have happened without the support and help of all the volunteers from St. Mark’s. So after the blessing Kyle said well, with this success it looks as though this will be an annual event. So we are at that time again.

This year Kyle will say his prayers and bless all the bikes with a custom designed carbon fiber bicycle fork. So get your bike ready and head on down Friday, May 20th, from 6:00 to 800 pm at St. Mark’s Parish Hall and courtyard, located at 1101 N. Collier Blvd. There will be entertainment once again by Shane Totten and Friends, and beverages and homemade pastries will be served, also door prizes and giveaways. Donations will be accepted to support St. Mark’s children and youth programs. See you there and don’t forget to check for photos of the event.

Matt Walthour, a Marco Island resident since 1985 is a graduate from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and is the owner of Island Bike Shop and Scootertown on Marco Island and Naples. He is also a member of the Marco Island bike path ad-hoc committee.


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