Religion: Wheels

The internal-combustion engine has done its bit for God as well as mammon. In 1870, with only 26 million people, Italy had 150,000 priests; today there are more than 47 million Italians, but only 92,000 priests. Even so, more people were baptized in 1955; more went to Communion this Easter than ever in history. One reason : motor scooters.

Priests in Italy, according to a Vatican report, currently own 30,850 motor scooters, and in terms of sacraments and good works, the average priest's efficiency has climbed to about 3,000% over that of his road-trudging 19th century predecessor. Another straw in this...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!