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A Vatican two-wheeler: Teen mechanics restore motorbike for Pope Francis

A group of teenagers at a Salesian-run professional school in Italy have restored a motorbike as a gift for the Pope.

The motorbike, an Itom 50 model that dates back to the 1960s, was present in Turin during Pope Francis’ meeting with Salesians at the House of Valdocco, the motherhouse of the Salesian congregation.

The teens plan to give it to the Pope in a private audience in the Vatican in the near future.

About 10,000 young people gathered June 21 in front of the Church of Mary Auxiliatrix in the quarter of Valdocco in the city of Turin. Many came from the Salesian schools and oratories in Italy and other parts of the world.

When Pope Francis came out of the Church to address young people with a short speech and to give a blessing, he could see the motorbike on his right side.

The restoration of the motorbike was done by the Salesian Professional School in Bra, a town in northern Italy.

“Students, with the help of a teacher, disassembled the motorbike, and then they restored it, repainted it in white and yellow (the colors of the Vatican flag), and re-coated it with zinc,” Gianfranco Morra, one of their teachers, told CNA June 21.

He said that the school proposed the project in a letter to Pope Francis. “We got a positive response from the papal entourage, we have been told our initiative was welcomed,” Morra said.

Their letter to the Pope explained the story of the Professional School of Bra, which was founded in 1959 with its first courses focused on carpentry.

“Then, we had classes of industrial mechanics, automotive mechanics, and we started a new repair shop with new workshops and tools, so we have a wide space to train our students,” the teacher said.

He added that the school now has about 600 students. About 90 of them are taking classes on car and motorbike repair.

Morra said that students and teachers “are waiting to be invited to go to a private audience to Pope Francis, to give the Pope the motorbike in person.”

St. John Bosco, the founder of the Salesians, started professional schools in Italy, with the aim of teaching young disadvantaged people job skills, a revolutionary idea in the 19th century. The year 2015 is the bicentenary of his birth.


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