On day three of Pope Benedict’s tour of Bavaria, tens of thousands of people have turned out for an open air mass as the German pontiff moves ever closer to home. Later today, the 79-year-old is due to visit the house where he was born. But first he took time to meet well-wishers in the nearby town of Altoetting. “It is so wonderful that the Holy Father is here,” said one woman.
“I am so happy that he has come to Bavaria. I am sure that he will fill my heart – that he is full of love and that he will fill my heart.” The town, in the south-eastern corner of Germany near the Austrian border, is a well-known pilgrimage site. A shrine to the Virgin Mary draws hundreds of thousands of worshippers every year.
The pope’s visit to his home village of Marktl am Inn where he spent the first two years of his life will be brief – lasting less than half an hour. The chalet-like house in which he was born has had to be repainted after vandals struck.