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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 April, 2005, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
World media swamp Pope's village
By Clare Murphy
BBC News website, Marktl am Inn

A cameraman shoots footage in front of a plaque commemorating the birth of Joseph Ratzinger
Cameramen have been filming virtually everything in the village

For every resident doing their shopping in Marktl am Inn, birthplace of the world's new pope, there seem to be approximately four journalists.

They home in on the same targets leaving the bakery or pharmacy, and fall back bashfully when pipped to the post.

They mistakenly approach each other. "Sorry, but I'm a journalist too," comes the sympathetic reply.

The world's press has descended on this Bavarian village of 2,500 in the two days since Joseph Ratzinger's election to the papal throne was announced.

Some Marktlers suffer their presence patiently, answering the same set of questions with increasingly well-rehearsed answers before posing obligingly for a picture in front of the house where he spent the first two years of his life.

'Ratzinger Tart'

Others are becoming increasingly tired of the whole affair.

"No," says one pensioner firmly, accosted as she made her way into the bakery. "I've had enough of this."

Business over the last couple of days has been great but the big question now is: How long it will last?
Eva Zeberer
local proprietress

She escapes into a shop whose front is adorned with signs advertising Vatican Bread.

Next door, Ratzinger Tart is on offer while further down, each customer received a free, edible papal medallion with every purchase.

While the residents may have had enough of all the attention, the small businesses here cannot get enough.

Eva Zeberer, proprietress of Eva's Tea Heaven on the corner of the square, hopes the interest will hold out at least a little longer.

She is expecting her first delivery of what she will sell as a special Benedictus XVI brew on Thursday.

"Business over the last couple of days has been great. But the big question now is how long it will last," she says.

"We need tourists as well as journalists. Pilgrims would be great."

'Having a look'

There were, indeed, tourists brushing shoulders with the journalists and residents in the main square, although whether any could justifiably be described as pilgrims is unclear.

Two Romanian priests taking pictures of each other outside the Ratzinger family house seemed possible pilgrim candidates. But it soon transpired they had not come from very far.

"We were in the area purely by chance," said one. "When we realised where we were we thought we'd pop in and have a look."

A Spanish school party from Benidorm were also snapping each other outside the house. They were particularly taken with the Sesame Street puppet which sits smiling in one of the windows.

"We're on a school exchange in a town quite nearby, so it seemed silly not to come," their teacher said.

'Real Bavarian

Wannabe pilgrims should, in any case, beware.

Baker presents Pope Benedict XVI pastries
'Pope's pastries' have become an instant hit

While the road to Marktl is not rocky per se, the regional train network is rather confusing to those not in the know, and one may find oneself stranded for some time in a small Bavarian village, waiting for the next departure.

Chances are high, however, that even if you go wrong, you will still end up in a village which lays some claim to the new pope.

The son of rather peripatetic parents, Mr Ratzinger lived and studied in a number of villages and towns nearby.

He attended a seminary in Traunstein and has said on numerous visits back there that: "This is a little piece of home for me".

Residents of Marktl are quite happy to admit that their claim to him is not exclusive.

"He was only here for two years after all," said pensioner Germann Seeling, who enjoyed the fuss while it lasted but is looking forward to peace returning to the village.

"You can't really describe him as a real Marktler."

Asked whether she thought the Pope would like the papal cakes she was giving away in his honour, baker Roswitha Leukert was unsure.

"I think so," she said tentatively. "I don't know all that much about him but I do know he's a real Bavarian, so I'm pretty sure he would."

Read Clare Murphy's previous article:




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