News

Pope Francis will drive his own 1984 ‘Popemobile’

Pope Francis will drive his own 1984 ‘Popemobile’

Pope Francis (R) is presented with a Renault 4 car during a private audience with Don Renzo Zocca at the Vatican in this picture taken Sept. 7, 2013. Photo: Reuters

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis plans to drive around Vatican City at the wheel of a “popemobile” that is a lot like him: frugal, clad in white, and with a fair bit of mileage.

The 1984 Renault 4 economy car with 186,000 miles on the clock was given to him by a 70-year-old priest from northern Italy, Father Renzo Zocca, who took the pope for a spin inside the walls of the tiny city-state.

“I think the pope will drive it a bit himself inside the Vatican,” the Holy See’s deputy spokesman, Father Ciro Benedettini, said on Thursday.

After the pope appealed to priests several months ago not to drive expensive cars but to save money and give it to the poor, Zocca wrote him a letter saying he had used the same car for decades and wanted to give it to the pope as a symbolic gift.

He brought it last weekend, along with some of his parishioners, to the Vatican, where the pope told him he knew how to drive it because he had had a Renault 4 in Argentina.

The pope, 76, then got in and drove it, Zocca told the Italian Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana (Christian Family).

Francis, who, as a cardinal in Buenos Aires, traveled by subway, has shown a predilection for simple means of transport even after his election in March as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years.

On the night of his election, he shunned the bulletproof papal Mercedes limousine and rode in a minibus with the cardinals who had chosen him to lead the Roman Catholic church.

During his trip to Brazil in July he was driven around Rio de Janeiro in a small silver Fiat at his own request, and when he visited a refugee centre in Rome on Tuesday, he used a Ford Focus from the Vatican’s car pool.

Francis has shunned the spacious and luxurious papal apartments used by his predecessors and has opted to live in a small suite in a Vatican guesthouse.

And while Francis will likely never need them in Rome, which is hit by serious snow only about once every 25 years, Zocca’s snow tires are still in the trunk.

“You never know,” he told Famiglia Cristiana.

Recent Headlines

2 days ago in Sports

The week’s best sports shots

Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning holds up the trophy after the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. The Broncos won 24-10. (AP Photo/Matt York)

A look back at some of the best plays and biggest moments in sports this week.

2 days ago in Sports

The weekend sports schedule

kobebryantallstar

Here's a look at this weekend's sports schedule.

2 days ago in Entertainment

Bill Murray tosses fans’ phones off rooftop

billmurray

The "Ghostbusters" star was unwinding at rooftop restaurant in California on Thursday when he spotted two starstruck fans trying to snap his photo.

2 days ago in Entertainment

OPENING WEEKEND: ‘Deadpool,’ ‘Zoolander 2’ to battle at the box office

15-overlay-6

Here's a look at some of the films set to open this weekend.

2 days ago in Entertainment, National

Roses and roaches: Cold-hearted Valentine’s Day ideas

valentines

With the coldest air in more than a decade forecast to grip the United States this Valentine's Day weekend, the holiday dedicated to love is flashing its frigid side.