Benedict, 85, elected pope in 2005, made a stunning announcement on February 11 that he no longer had the mental or physical strength to carry on the role and becomes the first leader of the Roman Catholic Church to step down voluntarily since Celestine V in 1294.
His successor will be chosen in a conclave scheduled to take place in March.
Within the cheerful voices of international crowd of tens of thousands of people, Benedict had toured the square in the popemobile before taking to the stage for his final official address as pope inside the Vatican.
He said: “I was deeply grateful for the understanding, support and prayers of the many of you, not only in Rome, but around the world.
“The decision I have made after much prayer is the fruit of a serene trust in God’s will and the deep love of Christ’s church.
“I will continue to accompany the church with my prayers and ask each of you to pray for me, and for the new pope.”
After retirement, Pope Benedict XVI will be known as “pope emeritus”. The title ‘Emeritus’ is a title used refers to a person who have retired from an important job. Pope Benedict will also move to another residence inside the Vatican known to be Mater Ecclesiae.
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