Pope Francis made quite a statement during his visit to the U.S. last year, when he rode in a Fiat 500L rather than one of the more opulent vehicles in the Vatican fleet. And now at least one of those headline-making Fiats will be auctioned off by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) lent the Pope a pair of 500Ls to use while he was in Philadelphia, and they were subsequently donated to the Archdiocese, according to Autoblog. One of those cars will be auctioned off for charity January 29 during the Philadelphia Auto Show Black Tie Tailgate, and the other car may be offered as well.
All proceeds from the auction will be divided among several charities. Half of the money will go to the Catholic Charities Appeal, which deals with homelessness and poverty. The other half will be divided equally among Mercy Hospice, Casa Del Carmen, and the Schools of Special Education of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
The Archdiocese isn’t sure how much the papal 500L will sell for. Celebrity connections can certainly help boost the value of cars at auction, but there isn’t exactly a huge collector market for used Popemobiles. Both FCA and the U.S. Secret Service have records of the special cars’ vehicle identification numbers (VIN), which should confirm their authenticity.
The second Fiat may be auctioned off as well, although the Archdiocese has not made a final decision on that. Regardless, it will be displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show from January 30 to February 7, and will almost certainly attract more attention than any Fiat 500L ever has.
Pope Francis has made a point of using less-lavish vehicles than his predecessors. While converted Mercedes-Benz SUVs were the norm for previous pontiffs, Pope Francis has employed a Hyundai Santa Fe, as well as a Jeep Wrangler. Nothing beats the Fiat 500L when it comes to humbleness, though.