PORTLAND, ORE. -- Reflections of blinking white bike lights danced up and down the organ pipes inside St. Stephen’s Episcopal Parish here on a recent Monday night. On the north wall, Lady Madonna had 35 bicyclists at her feet.
Pushing their bikes inside the church, the riders had escaped the autumn chill of downtown Portland. They had come to watch the Rev. Dennis Parker bless the nation’s first known church shrine honoring the Madonna del Ghisallo -- patron saint of cyclists.
“Creator God,” Parker said as he bowed his head in a corner of the sanctuary that held four long pews, “we ask that on this day you be with us in our travels.”