When Pope Francis paid a visit to Philadelphia last fall, he used a tiny black Fiat 500 hatchback to drive around the city. Friday, one of the Fiats he used will be auctioned off at the city’s Black Tie Tailgate auto show.
The car normally sells for around $20,000 for a base model, but this one should probably go for a lot more, due to its much honored passenger.
The proceeds from the auction will go to several Catholic charities in Philadelphia. And for all the doubters out there, the Secret Service has vouched for the vehicle identification numbers as the same as those on the Fiats used on Sept. 25 to 27.
“I’m deeply grateful to Fiat Chrysler for its generosity in giving the Archdiocese of Philadelphia the two Fiats used by Pope Francis during his visit to Philadelphia,” said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput in a statement. “When we learned that these vehicles would be given to us, we wanted to find some way for the public to see them and answer Pope Francis’ call to love and care for the poor."
The car represents the lack of pretention that has become synonymous with this 79-year-old, Argentina-born pontiff.
"It's a car that tells a message," Bishop Timothy Senior told CBS News. "It calls us to think about how we're living. What our priorities are and what about the people who don't have all that we have."
Other than the windows reverting back to their original tint, the car has been virtually untouched since the Holy Father’s visit.
The second Fiat used by Francis during his September trip will remain on display at the Auto Show, from Jan. 30 to Feb 7, and then may also be auctioned off at a later date.
The opening bid for the Fiat has not been announced, but a Harley-Davidson motorcycle briefly owned and signed by the pontiff – a gift from a Davidson descendant – sold for $327,000 at a Paris auction in 2014.
Buyers of the Fiat who may want their own “Popemobile” don’t have to be in Philly to make an offer. Bids will be accepted online.