Pope Benedict XVI, who will be called "pope emeritus" when he steps down as the head of the Catholic Church, held his final general audience in front of thousands of pilgrims in St Peter's Square, the eve of his resignation.
Earlier in the day, the Pope arrived for his sendoff in the open-sided “popemobile,” passing through tens of thousands that had crowded into a Roman piazza. He stopped several times to bless and kiss babies and children.
Pope Benedict XVI assured a huge, cheering crowd at the Vatican Wednesday that he was not abandoning the Catholic Church, saying he would remain at its service through prayer.
The last time a Pope had resigned was in 1415 when Pope Gregory VII agreed to resign as part of a negotiated deal with the Council of Constance to unify the Papacy, which for close to 40 years was ruled by two Popes… one in Rome, Italy and the other in Avignon, France.