File photo: Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst in his private chapel at the bishop's residence in Limburg an der Lahn, central Germany.

Limburg - A revamped garden attached to the residence of a bishop who resigned in disgrace this year because of the amount of money he spent on his own home was opened to the public in the western German city of Limburg.

Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, who became known internationally as the “bling bishop,” resigned in March after months of criticism for the 31-million euros spent on renovating his residence, including the fitting of a 15-million-euro bathtub.

The diocese decided that the residence's Garden of Mary - which received a 790 000-euro investment under the bishop - should be open to everyone.

About 700 people showed up on the first day, reported the diocese. Tebartz-van Elst's lavish lifestyle was a public embarrassment to the Catholic Church, which has returned its focus to charity and the poor under Pope Francis.

Tebartz-van Elst, 54, had also come under fire for lying under oath. He admitted to a reporter to having flown first class to visit slum dwellers in India, but subsequently denied in an affidavit that he had made such an admission.

After Hamburg prosecutors agreed to a settlement payment of 20 000 euros, the case was put on hold in November and ultimately terminated in late December.

German prosecutors have since closed their court case. - Sapa-dpa