January 20, 2016
Want a chance to play pope? Feel the need to wave to pedestrians while driving at a reasonable speed? Have a souvenir pope hat that you're dying to have a reason to sport?
Well, get ready to ride in style and let Jesus take the wheel, because, with the right bid, you could own your own piece of papal history.
At this year's Philadelphia Auto Show, one of the two Fiat 500Ls that transported Pope Francis through the city's streets during the pontiff's visit in September is set to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. The cars were given to the archdiocese as gifts from manufacturer Chrysler-Fiat.
The auction will take place during the Black Tie Tailgate event in advance of the start of the auto show at 9 p.m. on Jan. 29. While the Black Tie Tailgate raises funds for The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia through the Auto Dealers CARing for Kids Foundation, the auction of Pope Francis’ Philly Fiat will benefit select ministries and missions of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
"It's exactly what Pope Francis would have wanted us to do," said Donna Crilley Farrell, whose title during the papal visit was executive director of the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015.
Farrell along with Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and David Kelleher, chairman of the 2016 Philadelphia Auto Show, announced that the European-tuned papal passenger car would be sold to the highest bidder during a press conference on Wednesday.
Proceeds of the auction to be split in two ways, McIntyre said. Fifty percent of money raised will go to Catholic Charities Appeal to be distributed among various charities. The other half will be split three ways among Mercy Hospice, Casa Del Carmen Family Service Center in North Philly, and four archdiocesan special education schools.
"We are very grateful to all those who are helping us provide these funds," McIntyre said. He added that the other Fiat used during Pope Francis' visit also could be auctioned at a later date. That car will be on display at the Philadelphia Auto Show, which takes place from Jan 30. through Feb. 7
The auction will be conducted by Max Spann Real Estate and Auction Co. and will allow for both in-person and remote bidding. Neither auction officials nor church officials speculated how much car would fetch at auction.
Archdiocese of Philadelphia Spokesman Ken Gavin called the car "... a piece of history. It's really difficult to put a price tag on that."
Ticket information for the Black Tie Tailgate event can be found on the Philadelphia Auto Show's website.