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Popemobile shipped to US ahead of papal visit

Pope Francis greets the crowd from his popemobile, a Jeep Wrangler, as he arrives in Quito, Ecuador, in July (CNS)

More than a month before Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in the United States, his popemobile has landed on US shores.

“A Jeep Wrangler will be used as the popemobile in the USA (like the one used in Ecuador in July 2015),” the Vatican press office said in a statement on August 20.

A Vatican official added that there will be more than one vehicle on hand for Pope Francis, who will need a popemobile in Washington, New York and Philadelphia. “There is always a reserve” in case of malfunction, the official said.

The vehicles, the Vatican said, have “already been given to the Secret Service” for safekeeping before the Pope’s arrival. An air cargo company is used for sending the popemobile abroad before papal trips.

The Vatican’s popemobile fleet has included vehicles from Mercedes, Toyota, Isuzu, Kia, Hyundai and Land Rover as well as Jeep. And in the Philippines in January, locals adapted their typical “jeepney” bus into a popemobile.

A popemobile, with either open sides or bullet-proof glass sides, elevates the Pope as he rides through a crowd, making it easier for more people to see him.