Property: a blessing and a burden for the Vatican

Prestigious addresses in Paris, London and Geneva and 3,000 properties across Rome: the Vatican has revealed more details of its real estate empire, a source of income -- and scandal.

Nunzio Galantino, who was brought in two years ago by Pope Francis to centralise the Vatican's assets, says he is tired of "sensationalist" stories about the riches of the papacy.

"When people say that most real estate in Rome belongs to the Catholic Church and the Vatican, it's simply not true," the bishop, who heads the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), told AFP.

Yet the extent of the properties held by the Vatican are still eye-watering, while the management of one particular London development sparked a major scandal in the heart of the Catholic Church.

- A century of investments -

The investments date back to 1929, when the Vatican City State was founded as an independent territory in a deal with Italy that included compensation for lands seized from the former Papal States.