Fed up of incessant tourist interest, the current owner of Pope Benedict XVI's birthplace in Bavaria might sell out to a German church group with grand plans for the hallowed place.
A property in demand for the Catholic faithful
The group, called the "Pope Benedict XVI's Birthplace Foundation," was started by Passau Bishop Wilhelm Schraml with funding from the industrialist family of the late Cardinal Joseph Frings.
Early in his career, the pope, formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger, worked as an advisor to Frings, who died in 1978.
Media reports said the foundation had bid up to 3.5 million euros ($4.1 million) for the house in the Bavarian village of Marktl am Inn, but realtors say it's more likely to be sold for around one million euros. The foundation plans to turn the house in which the pope was born on April 19, 1927 into a museum devoted to him.
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The current owner, Claudia Dandl, put the property up for sale in June. She said she wanted to sell it to escape the constant interest from tourists since Benedict succeeded the late Pope John Paul II in April. She received more than 400 offers before the August deadline, but the house had not yet been sold. The new foundation said it was confident of reaching a deal.
The foundation and the dioceses are expecting "a positive decision within the first half of the new year," a statement from the Munich and Passau dioceses said. Then the pope could possibly open the museum personally during his September visit to Bavaria.
Marktl am Inn Mayor Hubert Gschwendtner called it the "nicest Christmas present" for his town. The community had wanted the building to become a museum from the start, he said.