Harley-Davidson is in Italy this week, gearing up for the company’s 110th Anniversary event that’s being held in Rome in June 2013. Apparently part of the pre-party planning involved having Pope Benedict XVI bless two fuel tanks today, with brand ambassador Willie G. Davidson present. This is of course a practice run for the full-bike blessing that will take place next year in St. Peter’s square.

We were going to write a tongue-in-cheek article about how we have never seen a company get as excited about a 110th anniversary celebration (though, there should be some sort of record for making the same motorcycle for that long of a time period), and maybe lace it with some choice idealogical wordplay, but honestly the press release from Harley-Davidson provides ample fodder for the cynics without our help. And here we thought the Pope was more of a Ducati guy

Press Release from Harley-Davidson:

ROME, ITALY – October 3, 2012 – Next June, tens of thousands of Harley-Davidson riders and fans from around the globe are expected to make their way to Italy’s capital city to celebrate Harley-Davidson’s 110th Anniversary and the shared passion for freedom that unites riders everywhere.

Today, Pope Benedict XVI along with Willie G. Davidson, grandson of one of Harley-Davidson’s founders and his son, Bill Davidson, Vice President of the Harley-Davidson Museum, launched the countdown to Harley-Davidson’s 110th Anniversary event in Rome, June 13-16, 2013, by presenting two commemorative motorcycle gas tanks to the Pope for a blessing. The tanks will be signed by Pope Benedict, Willie G. and Bill, and mounted on two motorcycles – one will return to the company’s hometown of Milwaukee, and displayed at the Harley-Davidson Museum, while the other will be auctioned to support the Good Samaritan Foundation.

“The 110th Anniversary Celebration will be a rockin’ party and so much more,” said Ken Ostermann, Harley-Davidson’s General Manager of International Marketing Operations. “Along with next year’s 110th Anniversary events around the world, the event in Rome is truly the most epic way we can show our thanks for the 110 years of riding and fun our passionate fans have given Harley-Davidson.”

Highlights of Harley-Davidson’s 110th Anniversary Celebration in Rome next year include a party in the Port of Ostia, a parade through the heart of Rome, two headlining concerts at Stadio Olimpico and a papal bike blessing at St. Peter’s Square.

“We’re anticipating next year’s celebration in Rome to be one of the largest events we’ve ever held outside the U.S.,” said Ostermann. “That is a strong testament to our continued global transformation as we respond to our growing fan base all over the world.”

Source: Harley-Davidson