Rickshaws and Mercedes-Benz: A Historical past of the Papamobile

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Billy Connolly tells the story of two Celtic football fans, each drinking two liters of crème de menthe, since they were told that it was the pope's choice. As they recover from the aftermath of their misguided consumption, they notice that they are not surprised that the Pope is carried around in a chair.

Until John Paul II's “chair” was abolished, this was actually the case. The ceremonial throne was called Sedia Gestatoria – basically a chair with two bars carried by 12 lackeys. Somewhat reminiscent of a Hollywood blockbuster, but not, as the Pope said, a good picture for a Pope in the later stages of the 20th century.

A Popemobile – the alternative means of transport – is a generic term that applies to many different brands and models. The current Popemobile is a Korean Kia that fits the current frugal Pope Francis, who was loafing at the expense of a Mercedes-Benz.

In May 1981, John Paul II was driven around St. Mark's Square in an open papamobile when a Turkish terrorist tried to murder him. Understandably, it was then considered appropriate to transport the Pope in a bulletproof vehicle. This is how the large, safety-laden Popemobile we know and love came into being. Even so, John Paul II was often seen in the open Fiat Campanula, surrounded by security guards, with only one bar to hold on to to keep himself up.

One of the requirements of a popemobile is that it can slowly drive past the devotees and be high enough to demonstrate His Holiness. At various times, the Pope has blessed both the Ferrari Formula 1 team and one or two street cars (and was for a drive in one), but no one would suggest such a supercar for a slow parade across St. Mark's Square.

Some of the most popular popemobile, especially by Pope Benedict XVI, were made by Mercedes. With its four bulletproof glass panes, a seat that can be lifted, its own oxygen supply, space for security personnel and armored (i.e. bombproof) sides and a lower abdomen, there are only a few safer means of transport.

Despite this modern miracle, every country the Pope visits has a tendency to build a special vehicle from a local manufacturer. A Leyland truck was converted for the visit of John Paul II to Britain in 1982. Not the most beautiful, but a good height for visibility and security.

Romania supplied a 4 × 4 Dacia Duster for Pope Francis' visit in 2019 – fitting for the current pope who avoids boasting. (In his first choice, he drove an old Renault 4, but has now switched to a Fiat 500, with Fiat being the preferred supplier of transportation in the Vatican.)

Taking into account the wishes of the Pope, the Roman Curia chooses the right vehicle for the right trip. Papal registration numbers are always SCV, followed by a number from 1 to 9 in red letters. Other Vatican vehicles also have the SCV label, but in black letters.

Mercedes-Benz appears to have been the leading supplier of papal transportation from its large limousines in the 1930s to the huge MB 600 of the 1960s. There were flirts with a Citroën SM with a special body and the strange brands from the Far East, like today's Kia.

The ultimate popemobile was used by Pope Francis during his visit to Bangladesh in 2017. He was transported in a brand new local rickshaw. Safety wasn't necessarily at the top of the list when making the decision, but additional protective and grab handles were included. Francis & # 39; rickshaw was pedaled by a local, unlike John Paul II. In 1986 when a priest pedaled her.

Of course, the Pope is not the only religious leader who travels in style when the opportunity demands it. On his travels through India, the 14th Dalai Lama preferred a Land Rover – more specifically, a Series IIA – that was restored to its former glory and sold at Sotheby’s last year for $ 143,000. The Queen – head of the Church of England – is also known to be part of a Land Rover, but she chooses her golden state coach for public occasions. The car weighs four tons and needs eight horses to pull it. He was described by the current monarch as “not intended for entry at all”. For something slimmer, she has the Bentley State limousine. With its 6.75 liter V8 engine and a top speed of 200 km / h, it is perhaps the fastest specially built leader mobile.

The current Pope is less used to this speed. Francis received a custom-made Lamborghini Huracán in 2018; Perhaps to the disappointment of his chauffeur, rather than adding it to his stable with pop mobiles, Francis blessed and signed the car and offered it in a charity sale. It made £ 630.00.

The Lamborghini is gone and Francis continues to drive his Fiat 500.

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