For sixteen years running (cycling?) the Cathedral of St. John the Divine has blessed bikes in advance of the Five Boro Bike Tour.
The Rev. Canon Julia Whitworth led the ritual in a long, golden robe. She said it doesn’t matter whether you’re a regular churchgoer, or if biking is your true religion. And that’s why she has the service, she said: “To pray — for those of us who are people of prayer — pray for safety and joy and fun and appreciation for being in God’s creation.”
The service was short but serious (even if the bell-ringing didn’t come from the church tower). Whitworth read a few passages from the Old Testament, including a part of the Book of Ezekiel that talks about wheels. Then she walked up and down the aisle, sprinkling the bikes and their riders with holy water. Two people read names of cyclists who had died riding in the city this year.
Then the organ started up, and everybody marched around the cathedral with their bikes. They went up the steps toward the altar, past elaborately carved wooden seats, and back down again.
Read (or listen) to it all at NPR.
NEW YORK – APRIL 18: The Reverend Canon Thomas Miller sprinkles holy water inside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine during the 11th annual Blessing of the Bicycles on April 18, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)