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Germany

Millions Offered for Pope's Birthplace

Bidders have offered more than $6 million (5 million euros) for the 18th century house in southern Germany where Pope Benedict XVI was born, a company representing the current owner said Tuesday.

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The Bavarian house could sell for 30 times its actual worth

Interested buyers include a Saudi Arabian sheikh, who wants to turn the nine-room house in the Bavarian village of Marktl am Inn into his summer residence, the Munich-based company Trimedia said.

Some 30 Germans have also made offers for the house, among them a prominent family who, along with a private US bidder, wish to put it in service of "the Church and the (Catholic) faith," Trimedia said.

The two-storey house, which was built in 1745 and is on a list of protected buildings, is valued at about 150,000 euros ($184,000) but the papal connection has dramatically inflated the price.

Curre n t ow n er fed up with public atte n tio n

Papst Benedikt XVI in Bayern

A candle with the pope's picture in the church where he was born

The bidding has reached five million euros ($6.1 million) for the large house, built in typical southern Bavarian style with a wide wooden roof, geraniums on the window sills and a white and yellow painted facade. Joseph Ratzinger was born in the home on April 16, 1927.

Since Cardinal Ratzinger's election as pope in April, faithful from around the world have descended on the village of 2,700 inhabitants close to the Austrian border.

Tourists who insist on visiting the house have made life miserable for the current owner Claudia Dandl, who bought the house six years ago and restored it. She put the home on the market in June.

Papal fly-over

Tuesday was the closing day for bidding but the new owner is expected to be announced only in about four weeks following negotiations with potential investors.

The debt-ridden local council has also put in an offer for the property but has been put out of the running by higher bidders, according to Trimedia.

Papst Benedikt Reaktionen Deutschland Bayern

A Bavarian musician plays next to a picture of the new Pope in Marktl

The pope caught a glimpse of the house Sunday on his way back to Rome from the World Youth Day celebrations in the western German city of Cologne.

Local firefighters shone spotlights onto the house to enable the pope to see it from the air while thousands of candles lit up the town center.

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