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Vatican vehicles and Popemobiles on display

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 01:23

Oct. 17 - Whether they rode in litters carried by men in livery, in ornate horse-drawn carriages, or later in cars, popes have always traveled in style. Kilmeny Duchardt reports.

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Celebrities and diplomats travel in some of the most expensive and flashy cars, but nothing can quite compare to the rides of Popes and Cardinals. And if you have to see it to believe it, some of the most ornate and decorated vehicles are on display at the Vatican Museums. The most extravagant? Pope Leo XII's Belina di Gran Gala carriage, built in 1826 - complete with a wooden throne and gold leaf detail. But Pope Gregory XVI later added gold angels holding a tiara and keys to symbolize papal power as he rolled through 19th century Rome. This jeep-style vehicle by Fiat from the 1970's is considered to be the first "Popemobile," and was used by Pope Paul VI, so he could be seen by the crowds during the jubilee year. The "Popemobile" became a household name during the papacy of Pope John Paul II, but its open-air design posed a threat in 1981 when he was shot and nearly killed by a Turkish gunman, who the Pope later forgave. The vehicles, which date from 1825 to present day, are all part of an updated exhibit representing two centuries of papal travel.

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Vatican vehicles and Popemobiles on display

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 01:23