An Italian priest has given Pope Francis a 20-year-old white Renault 4 to drive himself around Vatican city.

The car – which has 300,000 km (190,000 miles) on the clock – was presented to the Pope by Father Renzo Zocca this past weekend. The pontiff later drove it.

Known for his humble lifestyle, Francis said he used to drive the same car in his native Argentina.

In a bid to encourage austerity in the Church, the Pope has urged officials to avoid using expensive limousines.  Father Zocca said he was moved by the Pope’s effort to create “a Church for the poor”, and told the Italian magazine Famiglia Cristiana that he wanted to give him a gift.

“What better than my old Renault 4?” he asked.

Father Zocca said he was surprised to receive a phone call from the pontiff accepting the gift.

The priest turned up at his Vatican residence on Saturday to present the car and the Pope’s bodyguards were amazed when he took the keys and drove off.

Too bad Father Zocca didn’t give him a Citroën DS.  Then we could have done a story on the Pope’s love affair with a Goddess!!