Benedict sees out final hours of papacy

2013-02-28 18:29
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Vatican City - Pope Benedict has arrived at the papal summer residence where he will become the first pontiff in six centuries to resign instead of ruling for life.

A white Italian air force helicopter lifted off from the Vatican's heliport to fly the 85-year-old pope to Castel Gandolfo, just south of Rome, where at 19:00 he will resign and leave the papacy vacant.

Before boarding the helicopter, Benedict said goodbye to monsignors, Vatican staff and Swiss guards in the San Damaso courtyard of the Holy See's apostolic palace.

A final tweet from the first pope to have his own Twitter account, (at)Pontifex, sent shortly before his departure from the Vatican: "Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives."

Cardinals will start preparatory meetings on Friday to decide when to start a conclave to elect a new pope.


Read more on:    pope benedict xvi  |  pope francis  |  rome  |  vatican city  |  religion
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