Arts & Life

Holy water, helmets and handlebars

A small group of cyclists, led by two and a half year old Juliette Dalman and Pastor Bill Millar, gather to receive a blessing intended to protect them against hazards in the streets, such as pot holes and collisions with vehicles.

Winnipeg’s first ever blessing of bicycles was held at Knox United Church in Central Park yesterday.  There was a short non-sectarian service, the focus of which was directed more towards safety and community than religious content. Participants were invited to share a moment of gratitude, followed by a moment of silence to remember cyclists who have died in our streets. Riders and their bicycles were invited to come forward to receive a blessing, via a prayer and a sprinkling of holy water, to accompany them on their journeys.

Among the small crowd of cyclists was Knox United Church member Jean Dalman, who said she brought her two-and-a-half year-old daughter, Juliette, to receive a “blessing to start her cycling career.”

“We knew today was blessing of the bicycle,” said Dalman. “Juliette is a new cyclist, just starting out, and I thought that a few extra prayers for her on the road would be a good thing.”

Blessing of the bicycles ceremonies are meant to raise awareness about bicycle safety in communities. The first Blessing of Bicycles was held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City in 1999. The custom has since spread to municipalities through out North America.

Yesterday’s ceremony at Knox United was one of fifty events and activities that will take place in the city during the second annual Bike Week Winnipeg celebration. Bike Week runs all this week until Bike to Work Day on Friday, June 19th. A full list of events is available on their website.