04 May 2018, The Tablet

Papal Lamborghini up for auction at Sotherby's

The Pope prefers to keep it simple when it comes to his transport - eschewing the Papal Mercedes for a 30-year-old Renault

Papal Lamborghini up for auction at Sotherby's

A one-of-a-kind Lamborgini sports car, signed and blessed by Pope Francis, is to be auctioned by Sotherby’s on 12 May in Monaco.

The Italian sports car company designed and made a special Lamborgini Huracan for the Pope painted white to replicate the Vatican's flag colours with papal-gold accents on the hood, roof and doors.

Francis signed ‘Francesco’ with black marker onto the car when he received the gift in November of last year.

Sotheby’s have valued the sports car - a Lamborghini Huracan RWD Coupe - at 250,000 to 350,000 Euros.

According to the auction house, proceeds from the sale will go to “a quartet of deserving charities all near and dear to Pope Francis’ heart.”

The sale of the supercar “represents a unique opportunity to acquire a wholly unique Lamborghini while giving back to worthy causes in the name of His Holiness,” reads the auction catalog listing.

According to Sotheby’s, 70 per cent of the proceeds will go to help rebuild homes and churches in the Nineveh Plains of Iraq, where Christians were force out by Islamic State terrorists.

The Pope prefers to keep it simple when it comes to his Papal transport.

He has famously eschewed the Papal Mercedes in favour of a second-hand, 30-year-old Renault for personal trips within Vatican City. The car is a gift from a priest from northern Italy, Father Renzo Zocca. Fr Zocca is said to have written to the pontiff saying he had used the same car for decades and wanted to give it as a symbolic gift after the pope’s comments on humility.

In 2015 on his first US visit, Francis chose a Fiat 500L to shuttle him from the airport to the Vatican's embassy in Washington. In response, the car company tweeted “#blessed.”

He has also shunned the bullet-proof Popemobiles of his predecessors, saying the protective glass is like a "sardine can" that walls him off from people.

"It's true that anything could happen, but let's face it, at my age I don't have much to lose," he told a Spanish newspaper in an interview published in 2014.

"I know that something could happen to me, but it's in the hands of God," he added.

The Argentinian Pontiff’s preference for open-topped vehicles is in stark contrast to his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who always rode in an enclosed vehicle – a security measure introduced after the attempted assassination of John Paul II in St Peter’s Square in 1981.

In his quest to remain close to the faithful, the Pope has travelled in the backseat of a bicycle-pulled rickshaw en route to a meeting in Bangladesh; offered a ride to a 12-year-old boy with Down’s Syndrome and even accepted a pizza delivered to the Popemobile by a restaurant-owner in Naples.

Following a request by the Holy See to avoid a “proliferation of these vehicles in the world”, the two Popemobiles used during Francis’ recent trip to Chile were the same as those used during previous Papal visits to the US and Mexico.

PICTURE: Pope Francis blesses a Lamborghini presented by representatives of the Italian automaker at the Vatican Nov. 15. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

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