(Reuters) - A tiny black Fiat 500L that ferried Pope Francis through Philadelphia during his historic first visit to the United States will be auctioned next week, officials said on Wednesday.
The car, which the 79-year-old Pontiff chose as a symbol of his concern for the environment and desire to put aside some of the rich trappings long associated with his office, will be auctioned on Jan. 29, said organizers of last year’s World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.
Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, they said. The car will then go on display at the Philadelphia Auto Show, officials said.
The Fiat was one of six used during the Argentina-born Pontiff’s visit to Washington, New York and Philadelphia. He also used a white Jeep with open sides known as a “Popemobile” that allowed Francis to kiss babies as he passed.
Amid heavy security and typically surrounded by the large, armored black limousines and SUVs preferred by traveling American politicians, the Fiats were conspicuous for their small size and ever-open rear window from which the Pope waved to crowds.
Thousands of Americans, both followers of the Catholic religion and the curious, packed the streets of the three cities during Francis’ September visit, during which he also addressed the United Nations and met with prisoners and homeless people.
(Story corrects to show auction vehicle used only in Philadelphia, not other cities)
Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Dan Grebler