Friday, August 20, 2010

A biker pilgrimage with AC/DC

Step aside Lourdes. Here comes the festival of the Madonna of the Bikers.

I find fascinating the diverse ways in which religions are interacting with the modern world. I definitely have a soft-corner for UFO-based religions. But then this festival of the Madonna of the Bikers in France (France??) also made me smile. The picture above is an interesting/amusing example of a modern adaptation of an established religion. From On Motorcycle, European Pilgrims Race Toward God:
 The festival of the Madonna of the Bikers, which organizers promote as the largest motorcycle “pilgrimage” in France — there are few aspirants to the title — attracted nearly 10,000 motorcyclists from across Europe last weekend to the soggy wheat fields of Porcaro, population 650. It was an unlikely mix of what Roman Catholic Bretons call the “sacred and profane”; many came to pray, many to carouse, a surprising number to do both.
There were priests and incense and holy water and much solemnity and prayer, but also AC/DC and studded leather, body piercings and tattoos and, beginning well before noon and lasting well into the night, the consumption of prodigious quantities of alcohol.
Somehow, the AC/DC reference is just too perfect here (yes, I'm going to resist here putting any reference to Highway to Hell). And of course, we also have a biker priest:
 Despite all the imbibing, the gathering in Porcaro began as and remains a religious event, with the backing of the Catholic Church.
“The essential thing for me, as a priest — as a biker-priest — is to show this community that God is close to them,” said Father Audrain, who rides a BMW F 800 ST and has helped coordinate the Madonna of the Bikers since 2007. “My work, in the first place, is about making God seem all right, and making the church seem all right.”
Read the full article here.


kubra said...

Modern expressions of religious belief are always refreshing to see, this one particularly made me smile :) It is lovely to see that people are able to find peace and harmony in what traditionalists would see only clashes and irony - between certain lifestyles and the belief.

Plurality in religion is simply beautiful.

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