BMW presents new vehicle to Pope
The German car manufacturer BMW presented Pope John Paul II with a new car on Wednesday, at the conclusion of the regular weekly papal audience.
Catholic World News reports BMW also donated three motorcycles for use by Vatican employees.
The black sedan was waiting for the Holy Father outside the Paul VI auditorium after he addressed pilgrims there. The colour contrasted with that of the motorcycles, which are yellow and white, the colours of the Holy See.
The first papal car arrived at the Vatican in 1909, but some years passed before a pope actually used a car. Pope Pius XII received and used several different kinds of cars: a Bianchi, a Fiat, a Graham-Paige, a Citroen, and finally a Mercedes-Benz. It was in the Mercedes that he travelled to comfort the victims of bombing raids in Italy in 1943.
After the death of Pope John XXIII, popes have favoured use of an open Toyota Land Cruiser - dubbed the 'popemobile' - which allows the Holy Father to be seen as he travels through crowds. Pope John Paul II was riding in such a vehicle 1981 when he was hit with a would-be assassin's bullets. Today's Popemobile is designed to provide some security for the occupant, but still leaves the Pope visible.