Pope Francis drives ŠKODA – For the first time in the history of the traditional Czech company, ŠKODA provided the pontiff with four special ŠKODA RAPID SPACEBACKs for his two-day visit to Ireland as part of the 2018 World Meeting of Families in Dublin. In addition, ŠKODA, as the official vehicle partner of the ninth triennial World Meeting of Families from 21 to 26 August, deployed a fleet of OCTAVIA, KAROQ and SUPERB vehicles for the cardinals, bishops, and VIP guests attending the event.
The four ŠKODA RAPID SPACEBACKs for Pope Francis were adapted to comply with the exact specifications from the Vatican. They had a navy blue finish and a specially shaped armrest for the Pontiff. The tinted rear side windows were replaced with clear glass so that visitors could see the Pope. For the processions, chrome dowels were mounted on the front fenders of the passenger side, bearing the Vatican flag.
Special license plates for three Papal cars
In addition, three of the ŠKODA RAPID SPACEBACKs displayed commemorative Papal symbols. One vehicle had the number plate 182-C-1979, commemorating a previous Papal visit to Ireland by John Paul II in 1979. On the second vehicle, the number plate 182-C-2018 referred to the current year, and the third RAPID bore the digit-letter sequence 182-D-9093, where the numbers 9093 stood for the English word "Pope". After the departure of Francis, this vehicle and another ŠKODA RAPID SPACEBACK were made available for charitable causes.
After landing at Dublin Airport on Saturday morning (25 August), Pope Francis was driven to a meeting with government officials in the city in a ŠKODA RAPID SPACEBACK. Other events on the programme included a visit to a homeless shelter and a trip to a concert in Croke Park with performances by Andrea Bocelli and the stage show Riverdance. On Sunday, the Pontiff took a short journey in another ŠKODA RAPID SPACEBACK to the famous Marian pilgrimage Knock. At the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis held an afternoon mass in Dublin with 500,000 visitors, before being taken to the airport in the ŠKODA RAPID SPACEBACK and making the return journey to Rome.
In addition to the four ŠKODA RAPID SPACEBACKs for the Pope, the World Family Day also featured a special ŠKODA KAROQ. In the SUV, which was exhibited throughout the event, all the windows had been replaced by handcrafted, coloured windows, similar to those found in churches. A stained glass artist created motifs of the evolution of modern Irish families over the last 40 years and the welcoming traditional Irish culture. The glasswork also created a connection to the tradition of Bohemian crystal art, which is an integral part of ŠKODA’s DNA and reflected in many design details.
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