The last working day in office of Pope Benedict XVI. has begun. After nearly eight years, his pontificate ends today at 8:00 pm, the time of the Sede Vacante (“empty chair Petri”) begins.
At 5:00 p.m., Benedict XVI boards the helicopter in the Vatican gardens, which will take him and the members of his household to the Papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. Before his departure to Castel Gandolfo the Pope will say good bye to all those Cardinalspresent in Rome.
In Castel Gandolfo Benedict’s last public act will take place – a greeting to the faithful from the balcony of the palace. In March, the Cardinals will meet in the Conclave, to determine a successor to Benedict, who had surprisingly announced his resignation for the end of the month well two weeks ago.
Peal of bells for the farewell
The city of Rome says goodbye with bells ringing for the German Pope. After Benedict XVI. left the Vatican around 5 p.m, a few hours before the official end of his term, to go to Castel Gandolfo via helicopter, all bells will be rung in the Rome diocese to bid farewell .
Then they will also ring upon his arrival in Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope will spend the next two months, reported the Bishop of Albano, Marcello Semeraro. The private documents of the Pope are brought to Castel Gandolfo, the rest of the documents shall be kept in the Vatican archives.
Pilgrim to Castel Gandolfo
The faithful will gather for prayer at 4:30 p.m. in the town of Albano. Then they will pilgrimage to the nearby Castel Gandolfo, where the Papal summer residence is located. The faithful will be waiting for Joseph Ratzinger in prayer. The Pope is to welcome the pilgrims from the Apostolic Palace, the Bishop is reported.
The last day of Benedict’s pontificate has become kind of a reality show, wrote the Milan daily newspaper “Il Giornale”. TV cameras would track every single step of the Pope’s last day in office, until his departure by helicopter. “Benedict’s departure from Rome will be a historic event,” assured Bishop Edoardo Maria Vigano, Director of the Vatican television CTV (Centro Televisivo Vaticano).