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Pope Francis

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Vatican Museum launches exhibit on history of the Popemobile

2013-08-11

Inside the Vatican Museums, theres yet another smaller museum that deals with the history of popemobiles. The so called Carriage Pavilion was created by Pope Paul VI back in 1973. 

The exhibit covers this unique form of transportation, which have been used by Popes  in the past two centuries. The oldest of the chariots is the Grand Gala Berlin used by Leo XII. In 1931, the Papal chariots gave way to motored cars, which is all marked in the Vehicle Registry. 

SANDRO BARBAGALLO
Carriage Pavilion
"We have carriages from 1826. Also, the Grand Gala chariot ordered by Pope Leo XII that was made by great Roman carriage makers. The exhibit moves on to the end of the 1800's and to the start of 1900's. The Landau carriage would be the last one used by Popes, because soon after. the first motored vehicles were used.”

One of the crown jewels in the collection is the Fiat 1107, where John Paul II was shot on May 13, 1981. Of course, it holds great symbolism for the Church.

There are also several chariots and cars that were used during papal ceremonies and also to take important Church leaders from one point to another. It includes the carriage French Emperor Napoleon III gave to Cardinal Luciano Luigi Bonaparte. 

The first motor vehicle rolled into the Vatican soon after the election of Pius XI in the 1920's. It's one-a-kind.


SANDRO BARBAGALLO
Carriage Pavilion
"We have the first automobile that came into the Vatican, the first Papal car, which is a grand, American-made Graham Paige, based in Detroit, but which unfortunately no longer exists. So the first car officially used by a Pope is also a very rare car because there are very few models left in the whole world.”


The Papal cars have adapted to the times. After the 1975 jubilee, the Pope used the first "Popemobile,” an all-terrain, white car used to make his way among the crowds. 


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