Pope to visit his German birthplace in September

11th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

11 May 2006, MARKTL, Germany - Pope Benedict XVI is to pay a brief visit to the small town where he was born, Marktl-am-Inn, during his September visit to Germany, the Catholic bishop of Passau, Wilhelm Schraml, disclosed Wednesday.

11 May 2006

MARKTL, Germany - Pope Benedict XVI is to pay a brief visit to the small town where he was born, Marktl-am-Inn, during his September visit to Germany, the Catholic bishop of Passau, Wilhelm Schraml, disclosed Wednesday.

Marktl had been saddened when it was missed from the trip schedule announced months ago, and there has been speculation in the media that the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was offended by pushy Marktl residents trying to cash in on the town's sudden fame.

Schraml voiced gratitude at Benedict's "personal gesture" of stopping off on September 11 to recite a prayer at the Church of St. Oswald where he was baptised on April 16, 1927, the same day he was born.

Just after Benedict was elected pope last year, local shopkeepers introduced "papal" beer and buns and "Vatican sausage", and plans were forged to promote "papal" tourism. The Ratzinger family moved away from Marktl when the latter-day pope was a small child.

About 120,000 visitors have stopped by in the past 12 months to stare at the house where Ratzinger was born. The building has been purchased by a Catholic foundation for conversion into a museum.

The September 10-14 visit will be exclusively to the pope's former haunts in his home state of Bavaria.

Benedict, who still speaks German with a slight Bavarian accent, is to give an audience in Rome this Saturday to 500 Alpine marksmen who will wear Bavarian folk dress but must leave their rifles at home. They will be accompanied by their own "oompah"  bands.

The Saturday ceremony is to mark the 90th anniversary of the Virgin Mary being declared patron saint of Bavaria.

DPA

Subject: German News

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