<Pope Benedict XVI speaks to the faithful gathered outside the residence?
Pope Benedict XVI has arrived at Castel Gandolfo where he will spend the final hours of his papacy.
A 7,000-strong crowd gathered in the main square waving yellow and white paper pennants in Vatican colours to greet the Pope on his arrival.
There were huge cheers as the Pontiff, wearing only a white robe, briefly stepped out onto the balcony and spoke to the faithful with a final apostolic blessing.
“I am very happy to be here with you, surrounded by the beauty of the world. Thank you for your friendship and your affection,” he said.
“As you know, today is different to previous ones.
“I will only be the supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church until 8pm and then no longer. I will simply be a pilgrim who is starting the last phase of his pilgrimage on this earth.
“However, With all my heart and love and my prayers, I would like to work for the good of the Church and humanity.
“I feel your support … Let’s go on together for the Church and the good of the world.
“From the bottom of my heart I bless you,” he said, adding: “Thank you and good night.”
<Thousands of well-wishers pack the main square of Castel Gandolfo>
Benedict’s elder brother, George Ratzinger said the Pontiff’s final hours in office would be more private than a big send-off.
At 8pm local time the doors of the villa will close and the Swiss Guard that ceremonially watch over the summer residence will march away marking the end of Benedict’s papacy.
From then on he will be known as Emeritus Pope and devote his days to prayer and meditation.
Earlier, the Pontiff left the Vatican for the final time as leader of the Catholic Church, pledging “unconditional reverence and obedience” to whoever succeeds him.
He gave thanks to his closest aides who have been by his side during his papacy in an emotional parting ceremony, before stepping out from his apartments for the last time. Many of his staff had tears in their eyes.
As he bid the Vatican farewell as the Pope, he tweeted: “Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.”
Source – Sky News & Fox