As Christmas nears, the pontiff of the Catholic Church has been graced with an all new Popemobile. The customized 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is equipped with an embellished throne, a taller dome to allow more movement and an illuminated roof lining.
The pope’s new car also features customized security features that German automaker Daimler has not disclosed.
Compared with the previous vehicle, a modified M-Class from 2002, the new ride sports larger glass panels designed to make the 85-year-old religious leader more visible to a crowd.
The new Popemobile follows in the proud footsteps of a line of Mercedes-Benz cars used by the bishop of Rome over the past eight decades. Those include the first, a Nürburg 460 Pullman Saloon for Pope Pius XI, a 600 Pullman Landaulet and 300 SEL for Pope Jon XXIII and a G-Class for Pope John Paul II.
The head of the Catholic Church has a number of Popemobiles in his garage arsenal. Some are open air, while others have bulletproof glass, which became a necessity after a failed assassination attempt on John Paul II in 1981.
Such a selection is necessary for the Vatican to choose a car appropriate for each occasion depending on security needs, distance and speed of travel.
The predecessor to Popemobile was called 'sedia gestatoria', and meant a papal throne carried on the shoulders of papal attendants.
Pope Benedict XVI is to test his new vehicle on Saturday during a religious celebration at the Spanish Steps in Rome.