On Wednesday, Pope Francis became the new owner of a papal-themed Lamborghini Huracán, which was given to him by company executives at the Vatican and will be auctioned off for charity.
The sleek white Huracán with gold lines running along the hood and angles of the car’s body was presented to Francis in front of his residence at the Vatican’s Saint Martha Guesthouse Nov. 15. He blessed and autographed it in the presence of top executives from the luxury Italian sports car brand.
The car will be auctioned at Sotheby’s in London, and the Pope has decided to give the proceeds to three different charitable causes: the restoration of villages on the Nineveh Plain in Iraq, assisting victims of human trafficking, and missionary work in Africa.
At a base cost of roughly $250,000, the Huracán made its debut at the March 2014 Geneva Auto show, and was released in the second quarter of the year, quickly becoming Lamborghini’s most popular and best-selling car.
The name, which is Spanish for “hurricane,” is reminiscent of the fighting bull “Huracán” that fought in the late 1800s and was known for its courage. The choice of the car’s name follows suit with Lamborghini’s style, which often uses historic Spanish fighting bulls as a scheme for naming vehicles.
It was designed based on the hexagonal form of the carbon atom, and has 610 metric horsepower and 4 wheel drive, as well as a naturally aspirated V10 engine and a full-LED lighting system. In 2014, the Huracán was named “Supercar of the Year” by car magazine Top Gear.
With six different models of the Huracán on the market, the papal-version marks a special 7th edition created specifically for Pope Francis.
Funds raised by the car’s auction will go in part toward initiatives led by papal charity Aid to the Church in Need to rebuild properties that were destroyed by ISIS in Iraq.
One of their projects, titled “Iraq, return to the roots,” was presented at the Vatican in September. From 2014-2017, the project has financed various programs for Christians in Iraq, amounting to an approximate total of $35 million.
Among the structures destroyed or damaged since the ISIS invasion of the Nineveh Plains in 2014, it is estimated that some 13,000 homes, schools, hospitals and religious buildings were completely or partially destroyed. The project, with a total estimated cost of $250 million, aims to continue providing a concrete response to Christians from the Nineveh Plains who want to return to their homes.
Proceeds from the auction will also directly benefit the Pope John XXIII Community, which assists women who have been victims of human trafficking and prostitution. Pope Francis has met members of the community at the Vatican on several occasions, and he visited them in August 2016 as one of his “Mercy Friday” outings during the Jubilee of Mercy.
Funds from the auction will also support two Italian associations that carry out missionary work in Africa, one being the “GICAM” project of hand surgeon Professor Marco Lanzetta, and the other being the “Friends of Central Africa” organization, which for two years has led projects dedicated primarily to care for women and children.
Francis has done similar auctions for high-end gifts in the past, with each item going for well beyond its market sale price.
In 2013, he was given a Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide, which was sold to a private buyer for roughly $327,000, far exceeding the $16-22,000 pre-sale estimate.
After his September 2015 visit to the United States, during which FIAT Chrysler made a pair of FIAT 500Ls available for the Pope to use during his time in Philadelphia, both of the cars were auctioned off to support local charity.
Similarly, in April 2016 a white skullcap – known as a “zucchetto” and worn by prelates in the Catholic Church – was sold for around $18,000, after the owner had bought it and exchanged it with the Pope during a general audience. At least part of the funds went to support a children’s charity.