Popemobile to become Saintmobile

John Gunnell |
This 1982 Range Rover Popemobile was one of two built for a trip to England.

This 1982 Range Rover Popemobile was one of two built for a trip to England.

 

On Jan. 8, the current pope, Pope Francis, picked up a hitchhiker while his Popemobile was crossing St. Peters Square and made headlines and news broadcasts all over the world. Then, a few days later, there were international news reports on Francis selling one of his Popemocycles (a donated Harley) for charity. Well, we have news for all the media outlets that covered those stories—the really big Popemobile story is still coming! Look for it around April.

That’s when Pope John Paul II is going to be made a Saint. When that happens, any of the Popemobiles he used between the 1980s and his death will become the first Saintmobiles. That includes one of the two original bulletproof Popemobiles made in 1982, which is in this country. In fact, you can see it right now at the National Museum of Funeral History (www.nmfh.org) in Houston.

The Range Rover Popemobile was used by John Paul II in England and Scotland. It went to the Caribbean for two Papal excursions there, before passing into private hands in England. It was restored and then got sold to the Auto Collection in Las Vegas. Now, this “phone booth” SUV is the centerpiece of the NMFH’s “Celebrating the Lives and Deaths of the Popes” exhibit.

The National Museum of Funeral History has the Popemobile on display.

The National Museum of Funeral History has the Popemobile on display.

 

The Range Rover’s transition from Popemobile to Saintmobile started in July 2013, when the Catholic Church announced from the Vatican that Pope John Paul II would be declared a Saint.

In early 2014, the date for his canonization ceremony, which concludes the beatification process, was set as April 27, 2014. Beatification is an official act of a Pope to declare a dead person is enjoying heaven. With a Canonization, the dead person is declared a saint.

 

Pope John Paul II could stand in his “phone booth.”

Pope John Paul II could stand in his “phone booth.”

Unlike today’s ultra-plush Popemobile, the 1982 version was spartan inside.

Unlike today’s ultra-plush Popemobile, the 1982 version was spartan inside.

 

 

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