Vatican opens new exhibit of papal cars

VATICAN CITY — When an American archbishop offered the Vatican a car as a gift in 1909, Pope Pius X … Continued

VATICAN CITY — When an American archbishop offered the Vatican a car as a gift in 1909, Pope Pius X refused, saying he preferred to ride in a comfortable and much quieter horse-drawn carriage.

A century later, a new exhibition at the Vatican Museums shows just how far papal transportation has come since then.

A new permanent exhibition showcasing two centuries of papal travel was unveiled at the museums on Tuesday (Oct. 16).

Among the items on display in the newly refurbished “Padiglione delle Carrozze” (Carriage Pavilion), there is the white, open-top 1980 Fiat Campagnola that Pope John Paul II was riding in on May 13, 1981 when he was shot and almost killed in St. Peter’s Square.

It is a symbol of “a church that always gets back up on its feet when it is wounded,” the curator of the exhibition, Sandro Barbagallo, told Italian news agency Ansa.

The most extravagant item on display is probably the majestic Berlina di Gran Gala, created in 1826 on the orders of Pope Leo XII. A “moving throne room” that was carried around Rome’s streets by six horses, it is painted in gold leaf and decorated with allegories representing papal virtues such as faith and justice.

The first car to enter the Vatican was a Bianchi Tipo 15, presented as a gift to Pope Pius XI shortly after his election in 1922. Italian carmaker Bianchi quickly doubled the gift with a newer Tipo 20 model, thus earning the title of first Vatican official car supplier.

Only a few years later, in 1931, the era of horse-drawn carriages came to an end at the Vatican.

Vatican license plates were introduced in 1929, when the signing of the Lateran Pacts with Italy led to the end of the papal isolation inside the Vatican. Today, the pope’s car carries a white plate with the tag “SCV 1” in red letters. “SCV” stands for “State City Vatican.”

In 1975, Pope Paul VI introduced the “popemobile,” a white jeep-style car that allowed the pontiff to salute crowds as he was slowly driven around. The popemobiles are now made by Mercedes-Benz.

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.

More on: ,
Comments are closed.

Read More Articles

Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.