Pope Francis is known for his modest taste in transportation, eschewing his "Popemobile" for a small, black Fiat 500. So when Lamborghini handed him a papal gold and white Huracan, there was little chance that Vatican City natives would see the pontiff performing donuts in St. Peter’s Square.
Instead, he is to auction off the luxury sports car to raise money for charity, specifically to help Christian communities devastated by the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Iraq. Money raised will fund the Nineveh Plains Reconstruction Project, a home for women who were victims of trafficking at the hands of the jihadi group.
Francis blessed the special-edition car in a Vatican City ceremony on Wednesday. The value of a typical Huracan in Europe is around €200,000 ($236,000).
But at auction, with the pope’s blessing, his signature on the hood, and the gold and white design, the car is expected to ship for even more.
The Vatican said Wednesday that the sale of the sports car would help work toward allowing displaced Christians “to finally return to their roots and recover their dignity.”
The money, made from a sale at famous auction house Sotheby’s, will be put toward helping Christians in Iraq who were forced to flee the offensive of ISIS from 2014 onward, as well as Italian charities in Africa.
In its takeover of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, ISIS attacked churches and Christian shops and its fighters forced the Christian population of 3,000 to flee or be killed unless they converted to Islam or paid jizya (a tax paid by non-Muslims).
ISIS also enslaved and trafficked hundreds of Yazidi and Christian women, considering them to be either devil-worshippers or disbelievers, which they would regularly refer to by the Arabic term kuffar.
This is not the first time that Francis has ordered the sale of expensive vehicles for charitable causes. In 2014, he sold a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to help a homeless shelter in Rome.
Last year, he ordered the three cars he had used on a trip to Poland to be auctioned off to help Syrian refugees. The vehicles, all navy blue VW Golf cars, had personalized number plates.