|Seal of the Holy See When there is no Pope|
"The decision I have made, after much prayer, is the fruit of a serene trust in God’s will and a deep love of Christ’s Church. I will continue to accompany the Church with my prayers, and I ask each of you to pray for me and for the new Pope. In union with Mary and all the saints, let us entrust ourselves in faith and hope to God, who continues to watch over our lives and to guide the journey of the Church and our world along the paths of history."
Pope Benedict XVI, Final General Audience
Thank you all!
Dear friends, I am happy to be with you, surrounded by the beauty of Creation and your affection that does me much good. Thank you for your friendship, your love, [applause] ...
You know that this day for me is different from previous ones: I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church: until eight in the evening I will be still, and then no longer. I am simply a pilgrim who begins the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth.
But I wish still [applause - thank you!] ... but I wish still with my heart, my love, my prayer, my reflection, with all my inner strength, to work for the common good and the good of the Church and of humanity. And I feel very much supported by your affection.
Let's go forward with the Lord for the good of the Church and the world.
Thank you, I give you now [applause] ... with all my heart, my blessing.
Thank you, good night! Thank you all!
ROME, February 28, 2013 (Zenit.org) - During his last general audience Wednesday, Benedict XVI invited firm trust in the Lord, "like children in the arms of God."
The serenity of that trust has been reflected on his face today, the last of his pontificate. This morning, he addressed the cardinals for the last time, and then greeted each of them personally.
Then this afternoon, with very little ceremony, the Holy Father left the apostolic palace and was taken by car for the few-minute ride to the Vatican heliport, where he lifted off at 5:07 Rome time, as the bells of St. Peter's rang out.
Vatican Television transmitted video coverage of the brief flight, as the helicopter flew over Rome, passing by the Colosseum and other great monuments to the Church's 2,000-year history -- a history which Benedict XVI has deeply marked, not only with his profound and extensive theological contribution, but now, with his decision to resign from the See of Peter.
The helicopter touched down at 5:24, bringing Benedict XVI's last papal trip to a close. As another small group of people took the opportunity to kiss his hands and say good-bye and thank you, the Holy Father continued smiling serenely, though he looked a bit tired, now near the end of what has undoubtedly been a very emotional day.
The Pontiff was taken by car along the beautiful pathways leading to the residence at Castel Gandolfo, where he has spent the summers of his pontificate, as have popes before him.
Just after 5:30, he walked slowly inside, as the bells rang out in welcome, and the crowds packed in the courtyard chanted, "Benedetto." Some 10 minutes later he arrived at the window overlooking the plaza with a broad smile and outstretched arms, to say "Grazie!" Thank you.
He spoke for just a couple minutes, saying thank you as the crowds interrupted him with cheers and applause, and as many wiped away tears.
The Holy Father then gave his last blessing as Pontiff, enthusiastically thanking the faithful yet again and wishing them good night.
At 8 p.m., the Swiss Guards will leave their posts at the pontifical residence, thereby signaling the official end of the papacy of Benedict XVI.
God Bless You Benedict XVI, Roman Pontiff Emeritus!