MONTEVIDEO – A Montevideo auction house hopes to get at least $40,000 for an iPad used by Pope Francis, with the proceeds to be donated to a Catholic high school in the northwestern Uruguayan city of Paysandu.
“There is interest not only in our country,” auctioneer Juan Castells told Efe. “Recently, we received calls from around the world. The buzz has been great.”
The device to be auctioned on April 14 was given by Pope Francis to Uruguayan priest Gonzalo Aemilius, who visited the Vatican.
The friendship between the two Catholic priests dates to when the future pope, Jorge Bergoglio, was archbishop of Buenos Aires and learned about an educational institution that Aemilius ran in Montevideo.
During Aemilius’s visit to the Vatican, Francis gave him his iPad “to do with whatever he considered appropriate,” Monica Olivelli, principal of the Liceo Francisco school, told Efe.
The new high school, promoted by three Paysandu families and local church authorities, is modeled on the one Aemilius runs in Montevideo and was inaugurated this year.
To help finance the project, Aemilius donated the iPad Francis gave him.
The Liceo Francisco currently has 50 students from low-income families and, according to the institution’s promotional materials, it is “an all-day, religious, free and privately run educational center.”
“The idea is to add 50 new students each year, in addition to those already enrolled,” Olivelli said.
Proceeds from the iPad auction will be used to expand the facility, making room for more students, and to build a multisport center.
The device works and has engraved text that reads “Su Santidad Francisco” and “Vatican Internet service,” with the date March 2013, the auction house said.
“This is the iPad the pope was using regularly and, besides, it has a certificate of authenticity from the Vatican itself,” Castells said.
The market value of a similar iPad is around $660.
Olivelli calls the sale a “solidarity auction.”
The iPad that belonged to Pope Francis will not be sold if the bids do not reach the $40,000 mark, Olivelli said.
The iPad “has sentimental value,” Olivelli said, explaining that some people might consider the target price “funny.”
“Besides, we had to start from zero to build this project and there is still much to do,” she said.