Fiat used by Pope during US visit sold at auction for $117,000

Washington - A Fiat 500L used by Pope Francis during his visit last year to the US city of Philadelphia sold at auction Friday for $82,000 ($117,000), with the proceeds going to various Catholic charities.

Church officials in the northeastern US city said the auction was the highlight of a gala black-tie event kicking off this year's Philadelphia Auto Show.

Some 19 bidders from across the United States vied for the vehicle, but no details were immediately released about the winning bidder for the Fiat, a sporty, diminutive five-door wagon.

"What a magnificent spirit of generosity we witnessed this evening," John McIntyre, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said after the sale.

"To be able to auction the papal Fiat in such a spirited environment while knowing that this incredible outcome allows us to spread Pope Francis' message of love and care in a concrete way by supporting the charitable works of the Archdiocese is most gratifying," Bishop McIntyre said.

Profits from the sale benefited the Catholic Charities Appeal, Mercy Hospice, Casa Del Carmen, and the Archdiocesan Schools of Special Education, according to a statement issued by the organizers of the auction.

Church officials said that there were actually two Fiat 500Ls used by the pontiff during the Philadelphia visit, just one of which was auctioned Friday.

The other remains on display for the weeklong Philadelphia Auto Show, which formally opens on Saturday.