Call it the ultimate papal souvenir.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Wednesday that one of the dark gray Fiat 500Ls used by Pope Francis to make his way around the City of Brotherly Love in September will be auctioned off Jan. 29, with proceeds supporting four Catholic charities.
But even if you’re not in a position to place a bid – models that haven’t driven one of the most popular people on Earth start at about $20,000 – you can still get a glimpse at the mini papal chariot. A second Fiat also used by the pope will be on display at the Philadelphia Auto Show, and that car may be auctioned off as well.
The cars were donated by Fiat Chrysler for the papal visit, and quickly became symbolic of the pope’s humility, wedged between massive security SUVs during papal motorcades in Philly, DC, and New York.
“I’m deeply grateful to Fiat Chrysler for its generosity in giving the Archdiocese of Philadelphia the two Fiats used by Pope Francis during his visit to Philadelphia on Sept. 26-27, 2015,” said Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.
“When we learned that these vehicles would be given to us, we wanted to find some way for the public to see them and answer Pope Francis’ call to love and care for the poor,” he continued.
“Our partnership with the Philadelphia Auto Show provides us with the wonderful opportunity to share these vehicles with the community while also connecting with a highly engaged audience for the great benefit of society’s most vulnerable and marginalized members.”
Half the proceeds from the auction will benefit Catholic Charities of Philadelphia, and the rest will be split among a women’s rehabilitation center, homes for low-income Latino families, and special education programs at Catholic schools.
Anyone can bid on the Philly Fiats by contacting Max Spann Real Estate, which is handling the sale.
This isn’t the first papal Fiat to be auctioned off for charity.
In 2014, the Vatican announced that a Fiat 4×4, a smaller model available in Europe, would be auctioned off, along with other papal gifts.
Francis has asked priests to eschew luxury cars for more austere models, like the Ford Focus he uses to get around Rome.
In 2013, he said, “It hurts me when I see a priest or nun with the latest-model car.”
“You can’t do this,” he continued. “A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but, please, choose a more humble one. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world.”
The donations from Fiat Chrysler were, of course, more than a goodwill gesture. They provided the ultimate in free advertising for the beleaguered brand, leading to a spike in online searches by consumers.