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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living On Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

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This week, we have facts about the Blessing of the Bicycles, a yearly event attended by 400 bicyclists seeking the spiritual bike path.


CURWOOD: Welcome back to Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.

CURWOOD: On Saturday, May 18th, bicyclists can pedal their way to a church in New York City for some spiritual tailwind. That’s when the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine plays host and minister to more than 400 two-wheelers at the annual Blessing of the Bicycles.

The event began just three years ago when the president of the Five Borough Bicycle Club approached the church and pitched the idea, kicking off National Bike Week and the start of summer spinning with a blessing. The Cathedral already held blessing events for animals and marathon runners. So, why not a bicycle benediction?

The ceremony begins when the Cathedral opens its huge bronze doors to cyclists of any and all faiths. The bikes line up inside and The Very Reverend Dr. James A. Kowalski tells us that he’ll welcome the riders, as he does each year, with a few fitting lines from the Bible about a souped-up chariot.

KOWALSKI: Our reading today is from Ezekiel, Chapter One, Verses 18 through 21. Their rims were tall and awesome. Wherever the spirit would go, they went. And the wheels rose along with them. For the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

CURWOOD: Then Reverend Kowalski says a prayer of protection and walks down the rows of bicycles, sprinkling each one with holy water. The cyclists ring their bike bells in thanks, followed by a moment of silence to remember riders who died in the past year.

And then, the service is capped off with a final blessing from Reverend Kowalski. And the cyclists roll out of the Cathedral to strains of, you guessed it, "Bicycle Built for Two." And, for this week, that’s the Living on Earth Almanac.




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