Before it hits the road, the 'popemobile' takes to the seas

popemobile The "popemobile" that Pope Francis will use in Mozambique. | ACI Africa

Ahead of a papal trip to Africa, the "popemobile" - the vehicle in which Pope Francis will travel - has been shipped from Kenya to Mozambique, the first stop on the pope's six-day swing through three African nations.

The "popemobile" is the same one the pontiff used during his 2015 visit to Kenya. It was shipped by sea from the Kenyan port city of Mombasa on Aug. 17, to Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique.

Fr. Benjamin Maswali, apostolic administrator to Kenya's military ordinariate, told ACI Africa that the vehicle was inspected by Kenya's president, Uhuru Kenyatta, before it was authorized for shipment.

The vehicle was repainted and its seat covers were replaced before it was shipped.

Archbishop Bert van Megan, apostolic nuncio to Kenya, told ACI Africa that Vatican police contacted his office in June about having the "popemobile" shipped to Mozambique.

Archbishop van Megan told ACI Africa that because of the unique aspects of a papal trip, the pope's vehicle, "must be relatively high so everyone can see the Holy Father when touring through the streets of the city."

"It should be stable, sturdy and fast in case of an emergency," the nuncio said, adding that the vehicle "needs to have the necessary protection against wind and rain."

He confirmed that the car being temporarily transferred to Maputo, a modified Isuzu pickup truck, "met all the special requirements that a 'popemobile' needs" including being "light and friendly in design."

"It should therefore come as no surprise that the team of the Vatican, preparing the papal visit, came up with the idea to use the same vehicle for the papal visit in Mozambique as well," Archbishop van Megen said.

After it is used by the pope, the "popemobile" will be returned to Kenya, where it will be kept in storage for future papal trips to Africa.

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