Pope Francis will use an old, borrowed Fiat as a popemobile on his first overseas visit on Monday, two days after telling trainee priests to avoid driving flashy cars.
The Argentinian pope will visit the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa to drop a wreath into waters where thousands of migrants have drowned in recent years in the attempt to reach Europe from Africa, often on rickety, unseaworthy boats. Befitting his parsimonious style, Francis has planned a no-frills trip to the island, taking a small entourage and borrowing a drop-top Fiat Campagnola to get to a mass he will hold in a sports field.
"The Pope said he wanted nothing wasted on this trip," said a spokesman for the local mayor. "Since everyone knows everyone here, the town hall contacted a man who owns a villa and asked to borrow his car, which is over 20 years old." Popes used an open Fiat Campagnola during masses at St Peter's Square until Pope John Paul II was shot and wounded there in 1981.
On Saturday, Pope Francis warned an audience of trainee priests and nuns against using "the latest smart phone, the fastest car", telling them: "It hurts my heart when I see a priest with the latest model car. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world."