Dwarfed by massive secret service SUVs, the 78-year-old Pope Francis is a big man in a little car, driven away in a tiny Fiat 500 after landing in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, for his first ever visit to the U.S.
The Pope, flying from Cuba, where he urged the Communist-run island to maintain good relations with its strong neighbour, drove off in a modest Fiat 500 while the President of the United States traveled in his $1million armoured vehicle – The Beast
The “Popemobile” was no fancy limousine.
On his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, President Barack Obama greeted the pontiff and introduced him to his family and Vice President Joe Biden before they walked down the line of dignitaries. The pair then got into separate motorcades.
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Known for being humble and unassuming, the pontiff’s tiny Fiat 500 was dwarfed by security vehicles provided by the Obama administration, while President Obama traveled in his gigantic bomb-proof General Motors Cadillac with eight-inch thick armour-plating on its doors.
The Beast is 18ft in length, weighs 8 tons and has 8 inch thick armour plating on its doors and costs a cool million dollars.
By comparison, Pope Francis’ tiny Fiat 500, which is just 11ft 7in long and costs less than $20,000.
His simple Fiat is a reflection on Francis’ stand on consumerism and aim to focus less on material goods and more on the poor.
Since succeeding Pope Benedict in 2013, the former cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina has eschewed some of the more ostentatious trappings of his office and has chosen to live in a Vatican guest house rather than the opulent papal apartments.
He has also picked more modest vehicles than his German predecessor who had a preference for a luxury Mercedes Popemobile.
In 2013, he even called on priests to stop driving flashy cars and pick something more ‘humble’.
He said: ‘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.
During his trip, he will also be chauffeured in a Jeep Wrangler Popemobile, also manufactured by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
The license plate on the Fiat reads SCV 1, which means Vatican City 1. SCV stands for Status Civitatis Vaticanae, Latin for Vatican City State.