Pope holds his last general audience
Updated: 2013-03-01 11:24
Departing Pope Benedict XVI held his last general audience at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on Wednesday, drawing a massive crowd of Roman Catholics and other spectators from across the world.
After greeting a cheering crowd in the square from the Popemobile, Benedict said his resignation was for the good of the church, while recalling the day back in 2005 when he assumed the papacy.
Tens of thousands, many waving national flags and banners, stood for hours to see Benedict on the eve of his withdrawal from public life.
"I came to see the pope for the last time before he retires. I like him very much," said Valentina Ferri, a 10-year-old girl from Rome.
Benedict shocked the world in mid-February when he announced his decision to resign due to "physical weakness."
There were doubts about the reasons behind his resignation, given scandals within the church, but may Roman Catholics believe the pope was indeed getting too old.
Benedict was dean of the College of Cardinal in 2005 when he became the sixth German to be elected pope, succeeding John Paul II. Benedict's resignation was the first in nearly 600 years.
Earlier this week, the Vatican announced that the name Benedict XVI will be kept and the pope will be known as "pope emeritus" when he retires.
The pope was scheduled to leave office on Thursday, and cardinals are expected to elect his successor in a conclave in March.