A 2013 Harley-Davidson Super Dyna Glide motorcycle signed by Pope Francis was auctioned off in Paris for a total of $327,000 according to reports from The New York Times. The final sale price far exceeded expectations – presale estimates topped off at about $22,000- and will be donated to a hostel and soup kitchen in Rome.
The pope's bike
The bike, which normally sells for about $13,000, was donated to Pope Francis last year by Willie Davidson, grandson of the Harley-Davidson co-founder, in honor of the company's 110th anniversary. The pope signed his name as "Francesco" on the motorcycle's fuel tank in silver ink. Included with the bike was a leather Harley-Davidson motorcycle jacket also signed by the pontiff. The jacket sold for a total of $77,485.
The people's pope
The final sale price of the signed Harley-Davidson items was no doubt aided by Pope Francis' incredible popularity. Since his ascendance to the papacy in March 2013, Pope Francis has steadily gained popularity for his progressive comments on controversial topics in the Catholic faith, going so far as to be named Time magazine's 2013 Person of the Year. A CNN/ORC poll found that at the time Pope Francis was named Person of the Year, 88 percent of American Catholics approved of the direction the pope was taking the church. In addition, that same poll found that nearly three out of four Americans approved of the new pope.
Much of Pope Francis' popularity comes from his humble attitude and populist roots. Originally from Argentina, he was a janitor and a bar bouncer before being ordained. Since he became pope, he has passed up many of the lavish benefits of that office, preferring simpler clothes, a modest apartment and a cheaper car than most of his predecessors. His modesty and populism also extend to his actions, as he has washed the feet of juvenile delinquents and hosted homeless men at the commemorative Mass to celebrate his birthday.
The proceeds from the auction will go to the charity Caritas Roma to help the operations of its new hostel and soup kitchen located in Rome's Termini train station. The Catholic charity seeks to offer a place for the homeless to receive a meal and a place to stay off the streets. The organization also runs programs to help minors, those living with AIDS and immigrants in the Italian capital.