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Image: Pope greets faithful at Castel Gandolfo

World

Pope Benedict XVI's departure

The pope delivers his final audience in St. Peter's Square as he prepares to stand down.

/ 34 PHOTOS
Image: Pope Benedict XVI Steps Down And Officially Retires From The Papal Office

People say prayers for Pope Benedict XVI in the moments before he ceased to be pontiff on Feb. 28, 2013 in Vatican City. Pope Benedict XVI has been the leader of the Catholic Church for eight years and is the first pope to retire since 1415.

Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images Europe
Image: Pope greets faithful at Castel Gandolfo

Pope Benedict XVI leaves a balcony after giving his final blessing to the faithful in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, on Thursday, Feb. 28. Benedict officially steps down at 8 pm local time (1900 GMT) on Feb. 28. The end of his papacy will be marked by the closure of the gates to the palace of Castel Gandolfo, the papal residence on the outskirts of Rome where he will live temporarily.

Ettore Ferrari / ANSA
Image: A nun waves her handkerchief from a window as Pope Benedict XVI makes his final address at Castelgandolfo

A nun waves her handkerchief from a window as Pope Benedict XVI makes his final address at Castel Gandolfo, on Thursday. Pope Benedict slips quietly from the world stage on Thursday after a private last goodbye to his cardinals and a short flight to a country palace to enter the final phase of his life "hidden from the world."

Tony Gentile / X90029
Image: People react near a giant screen showing the departure of Pope Benedict XVI  from the Vatican City

People react near a giant screen showing the departure of Pope Benedict XVI from the Vatican City, on Thursday.

Stefano Rellandini / X90016
Image: Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful for the last time from the balcony of his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful for the last time from the balcony of his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo Thursday.

Tony Gentile / X90029
Image: Nuns watch Pope departing

A group of nuns in St. Peter's Square watch a screen showing Pope Benedict XVI greeting the faithful at the papal summer residence Castel Gandolfo, in Vatican City, on Thursday.

Guido Montani / ANSA
Image: Pope Benedict XVI Steps Down And Officially Retires From The Papal Office

A helicopter carrying Pope Benedict XVI passes St Peter's Basilica as he leaves Vatican City on Thursday in Rome, Italy.

Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images Europe
Image: Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI deliveres his final greetings to the assembly of cardinals at the Vatican on Feb. 28, before he retires in just a few hours. Benedict urged the cardinals to work in unity and promised his "unconditional reverence and obedience" to his successor in his final words to his cardinals.

Alessandra Tarantino / AP
Image: Pope Benedict XVI Holds His Final General Audience Before His Retirement

Pilgrims and clergy members hold a candle-lit vigil in Saint Peter's Square, facing Pope Benedict XVI's private apartment, after his final weekly public audience on Wednesday in Vatican City, Vatican.

Oli Scarff / Getty Images Europe
Image: Pope Benedict XVI Holds His Final General Audience Before His Retirement

Night falls over Vatican City on Wednesday in Rome, Italy.

Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images Europe
Image: Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI leaves after celebrating his last general audience, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, on Wednesday.

Gregorio Borgia / AP
Image: Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela reacts while attending the last general audience of Pope Benedict XVI in St Peter's Square at the Vatican

Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela (third from left) reacts while attending the last general audience of Pope Benedict XVI in St Peter's Square at the Vatican on Wednesday.

Alessandro Bianchi / X90015
Image: Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI holds his last general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, on Wednesday.

Andrew Medichini / AP
Image: Pope Benedict XVI Holds His Final General Audience Before His Retirement

Pope Benedict XVI addresses the crowd in St Peter's Square on Wednesday in Vatican City, Vatican.

Oli Scarff / Getty Images Europe
Image: Pope Benedict XVI Holds His Final General Audience Before His Retirement

A nun waves as she waits in the crowd for the arrival of Pope Benedict XV in St Peter's Square on Wednesday in Vatican City, Vatican.

Carsten Koall / Getty Images Europe
Image: Pope Benedict XVI Holds His Final General Audience Before His Retirement

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful as he arrives in St. Peter's Square for his final general audience on Wednesday in Vatican City, Vatican.

Franco Origlia / Getty Images Europe
Image: A sign reading \"Thank you\" in Italian is held in St Peter's Square as Pope Benedict XVI holds his last general audience at the Vatican

A sign reading "thanks" in Italian is held in St Peter's Square as Pope Benedict XVI holds his last general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday.

Max Rossi / X90039
Image: TOPSHOTS-VATICAN-POPE-LAST AUDIENCE

Pope Benedict XVI blesses faithful before leaving the altar at the end of his last weekly audience on Wednesday, at St Peter's square at the Vatican.

Gabriel Bouys / AFP
Image: Pope Benedict XVI Holds His Final General Audience Before His Retirement

Pope Benedict XVI travels through the crowd in the popemobile in St Peter's Square on Wednesday, in Vatican City, Vatican.

Carsten Koall / Getty Images Europe
Image: Pope Benedict XVI Holds His Final General Audience Before His Retirement

Pope Benedict XVI kisses a child as he arrives in St Peter's Square for his final general audience on Wednesday, in Vatican City, Vatican.

Franco Origlia / Getty Images Europe
Image: Pope Benedict XVI Holds His Final General Audience Before His Retirement

A woman uses an iPad during the ceremony of Pope Benedict XV in St Peter's Square on Wednesday, in Vatican City, Vatican.

Carsten Koall / Getty Images Europe
Image: Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful after holding his last general audience at the Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful after holding his last general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday.

Max Rossi / X90039
Image: PAPAL RING

The right hand of Pope Benedict XVI wearing the Ring of the Fisherman, named after Saint Peter who was a fisherman, waves after his final weekly Wednesday General Audience of his tenure at St. Peter's Square, Vatican.

Michael Kappeler / DPA
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Nuns attend Pope Benedict XVI's last general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, on Wednesday.

Oded Balilty / AP
Image: VATICAN-POPE-LAST AUDIENCE

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives on St Peter's Square at the Vatican for his last weekly audience on Feb. 27, 2013, the eve of his historic resignation as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

Afp / AFP
Image: Nuns from Brazil wait for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI to hold his last general audience at St Peter's Square at the Vatican

Nuns from Brazil wait for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI at St Peter's Square on Wednesday. The weekly event would normally be held in a vast auditorium in winter, but was moved outdoors so that more people could attend.

Alessandro Bianchi / X90015
Image: VATICAN-POPE-LAST AUDIENCE

Pope Benedict XVI waves from the altar as he arrives in St Peter's Square on Wednesday.

Afp / AFP
Image: The faithful fill St Peter's Square ahead of Pope Benedict XVI's final general audience.

The faithful fill St Peter's Square ahead of Pope Benedict XVI's final general audience on Wednesday.

Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images Europe
Image: Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful after arriving in St Peter's Square to hold his last general audience at the Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful after arriving in St Peter's Square on Wednesday.

Max Rossi / X90039
Image: VATICAN-POPE-LAST AUDIENCE

Members of the crowd hold a placard reading "Pope Benedict XVI, Pope again" as they take their places on St Peter's Square on Wednesday.

Afp / AFP
Image: special moment

An aide passes a newborn baby to Pope Benedict XVI for a papal blessing and kiss as the Popemobile transports the Pontiff through the crowd in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday.

Maurizio Brambatti / ANSA
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Pope Benedict XVI waves to pilgrims in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday.

Luca Bruno / AP
Image: VATICAN-POPE-LAST AUDIENCE

Faithful attend Pope Benedict XVI's last weekly audience in St Peter's Square on Wednesday.

Afp / AFP
Image: Pope Benedict XVI waves from the altar during his last weekly audience.

Pope Benedict XVI waves from the altar during his last weekly audience on Wednesday.

Gabriel Bouys / AFP
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