By Sarah Mac Donald - 28 August, 2018
The blue Skoda Rapid used by Pope Francis during his historic trip to Ireland is to be used to help homeless families.
On Monday, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, president of WMOF2018, announced that the car would be donated to Crosscare, the social care agency of the archdiocese of Dublin.
It will be used by Crosscare staff based in the agency’s Mater Dei homeless hub.
Each week, Crosscare staff assist homeless families at the hub move on from this temporary facility to more secure, long-term accommodation.
According to Crosscare, there can be as many as 50 families in the hub seeking housing at any one time.
Since it opened, 100 families have moved through the temporary system, facilitated by Crosscare workers in their homeless services.
Unfortunately, with the homeless crisis continuing, as each family moves on, another one is waiting to move in and the family hub is constantly full.
The blue Skoda Rapid used by the Pontiff will be used by Crosscare staff to take families who are moving on to view their next accommodation.
According to the archdiocese of Dublin, it will be in daily use.
Conor Hickey, Director of Crosscare services, said the agency was delighted with the gift from the Pope and he hoped that families who were struggling in this way would find this gesture from the Pope of some comfort in that they were constantly remembered by him.
Crosscare will not, however, be able to keep the number plate on the car – SCV 1 – which is an acronym both in Italian and in Latin.
The Latin is Status Civitatis Vaticanae and the Italian is Stato della Città del Vaticano and when translated from both languages, it means Vatican City.
Road vehicles registered in Vatican City use the prefix SCV followed by a series of digits.
Ahead of Pope Francis’ visit last weekend, a number of special licence plates were prepared by Skoda for the occasion.
Raymond Leddy of Skoda Ireland told RTÉ, “As part of the Papal fleet, we are commemorating Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland, with vehicle registration 182-C-1979 and, of course, marking this year’s event with vehicle registration 182-C-2018. 182-D-9093 is the primary vehicle, which, when the digits 9093 are inverted, spells out the word Pope. Each car provided has been customised to requirements.
“Modified glass has been installed and each vehicle has been provided in a unique navy-blue colour as requested. Small chrome flag poles have also been installed to the passenger-side fenders, which will display the Vatican flag.”
Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has shown a preference for a simpler lifestyle and simpler cars. As a cardinal he often took public transport. On the night of his election he rode with the other cardinals in a minibus back to their hotel instead of using a papal limousine.
For trips within the Vatican City he has used a Ford Focus from the Vatican motor pool. He also drove himself around the city in a 30-year-old 1984 Renault 4 presented to him by Italian Fr Renzo Zocca.
The former Mater Dei College was given over to Dublin City Council by the Archdiocese of Dublin last year.
It was completely refurbished into apartments to allow families to move out of hotel accommodation and live and eat together in a more family friendly environment, with appropriate support services in place.