A rare vehicle with a direct link to one of the most influential people in the world could soon be yours. During Pope Francis's highly anticipated visit to the United States in September 2015, the pontiff was seen riding in and waving from the back seat of a FIAT 500 Lounge Hatchback. Now, thanks to a collaboration between the Archdiocese of New York and Charitybuzz, the vehicle will be sold online to the highest bidder. The auction will close at 3 p.m. on March 31.
The car—provided for the visit by Chrysler—was the Pope's official mode of transportation during much of the trip, according to a Charitybuzz press release. And it wasn't the vehicle's only noteworthy ride. Earlier this month, the car was driven to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, reviewed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and featured in the New York City St. Patrick's Day parade.
The car features premium seats, an Alpine Premium Audio System, and a fixed glass roof, according to the auction page. However, unlike other vehicles used to transport important people, the Pope's FIAT is not bulletproofed or reinforced. In 2014, he told Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia that bulletproofing was unnecessary. "I know that something could happen to me, but it's in the hands of God."
Proceeds from the auction will benefit Catholic Schools, Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. The vehicle's estimated value is listed as $82,000 (the MSRP for a standard FIAT 500 Lounge is $18,700), and with ten days left on the clock, bidding has already climbed to $46,000.
As a bonus, the winner of the auction will have the opportunity to drive the car to St. Patrick's, where Cardinal Timothy Dolan will bless it. For more information, head to the Charitybuzz auction page.