During tomorrow’s visit to Macedonia, Pope Francis is expected to ride in a popemobile, a specially designed vehicle, on the streets of Skopje.
The papal ride is usually modified to provide high visibility for the pontiff to be seen by the crowds gathered for his blessing.
The Pope didn’t use an automobile before 1929, however. He got around usually in a horse carriage or was carried around by footmen.
For public appearances, the Pope sat on an open-air chair called sedia gestatoria (English: chair for carrying) atop 12 people’s shoulders.
The first car a Pope rode around in was a 1929 Fiat 525, followed by a 1929 Graham Paige Type 837, 1930 Mercedes-Benz Nürburg, 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300d, 1964 Lincoln Continental, 1974 Citroen SM, 1973 Fiat Campagnola, 1982 Range Rover State Review Car, 1984 GMC Sierra, 1988 Peugeot 504, 1997 Mercedes-Benz S-class convertible, 2007 Mercedes-Benz G-wagon, and others.
Not long after he assumed the papacy, Pope Francis accepted a new Mercedes M-Class popemobile, but according to the New York Times, “Francis drives himself around the Vatican in a 1984 Renault with 186,000 miles on it” or a Ford Focus.
Papal rides have also been provided from car manufacturers such as Jeep, Toyota, Isuzu, Kia, Hyundai, and Land Rover.
Several popemobiles have featured a bulletproof-glass-enclosed “pope box,” but Pope Francis is said to prefer open-sided sport utility vehicles during his trips abroad.