Ratzinger's birthplace of Marktl enjoys limelight

20th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

20 April 2005, MARKTL - The residents of the upper Bavarian village of Marktl were a little tired from lack of sleep on Wednesday morning after celebrating well into the night the election as pope of 'their' cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger, who was born there on 16 April 1927.

20 April 2005

MARKTL - The residents of the upper Bavarian village of Marktl were a little tired from lack of sleep on Wednesday morning after celebrating well into the night the election as pope of 'their' cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger, who was born there on 16 April 1927.

The bakers in this community of just 2,600 souls had even less sleep as they worked through the night to produce a sugary surprise to honour their most prominent village son: the Pope Benedict XVI cake. At just EUR 1.30 each, they sold out in a flash, as did the EUR 1 Vatican bread that also flew off the bakery shelves.

Other culinary treats offered to mark the election of the new pope in his native Germany include five kilograms of asparagus from the Pfalz region. Farmers from Dudenhofen sent their congratulations to the new pope in an e-mail with photos of their asparagus fields.

But as the residents back in Marktl enjoyed the baked treats, villagers found themselves under siege: the centre of the village was sealed off as camera crews from around the world descended on the birthplace of the new pope.

"We are proud that a person from Marktl has become pope," local resident Guenther Voelker said, even if little Joseph and his family moved south to Tittmoning when he was two. The 57-year-old Voelker is even prouder to have been delivered by the same midwife, Emilie Schneidermeier, as Ratzinger.

It seems that the locals are a little overstretched by the news of the new German pope just a day after it broke: it is not just because the rain is falling that the streets are empty; those brave enough to leave their homes immediately find a microphone in their faces and a television camera pointing at them.

Local mayor Hubert Gschwendtner and parish priest Josef Kaiser are more accustomed to popular acclaim, with queues of media forming outside the mayor's office and St. Oswald's church waiting to interview them both.

"As the white smoke rose above the Sistine Chapel, I knew: Ratzinger is the pope," the priest said.

The mayor has been trying all morning to send Benedict XVI an official invitation to the village, but is not sure what number to send the fax to.

The village council is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss how the small community on the border with Austria can deal with its new-found international status.

In the local museum visitors can already find the baptismal font over which Joseph Ratzinger was welcomed into the community of the Catholic Church on the day of his birth, a bitterly cold Easter Saturday in 1927.

His birthday in 1997 was the last occasion on which he visited Marktl. That time he was honoured as a freeman of the village.

Mayor Gschwendtner is now hoping that Benedict XVI will pay an early visit to the village and open a papal museum there.

Before then, the citizens of Marktl are planning to travel together to Rome on Sunday for the inauguration ceremony of 'their' pope.

DPA

Subject: German news

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