Benedict departs Vatican, issues final tweet
Pontiff emeritus will live in style before entering monastery.
The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has left the Vatican to spend his last hour as pope at his retreat in Castel Gandolfo. Within the next hour, he will become the first pope in six centuries to retire. He will spend the next several weeks at his splendid retreat house, before permanently entering a Vatican monastery.
He arrived at his villa in Castel Gandolfo at 5:32 p.m. local time. He will make the end of his office quietly.
Before departing, Benedict issued a final tweet to his loyal followers on Twitter.
"Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives."
He also made a final appearance on his balcony, telling the crowd, ""This day brings me great joy. I feel very fortunate. Let us continue to go forward. Thank you. With my dire heart and blessing, I impart my blessing. Thank you and good evening."
Benedict has also promised his unfailing obedience to the next pope, who will be elected sometime in the next two weeks. The conclave to elect his successor will probably be moved up to a date between March 4 and 15.
Now, Benedict, soon to be Ratzinger once again, will spend the next several weeks at Castel Gandolfo, a long-serving retreat house for popes. The villa has been enjoyed by popes for hundreds of years and also houses the Vatican Observatory, the world's single longest-serving scientific mission.
The Pontiff Emeritus will enjoy a comfortable life of luxury in the well-appointed villa. The villa is larger than Vatican City itself and overlooks the historic palace of the first-century Roman Emperor Domitian.
Following his well-earned vacation, Pontiff Emeritus Ratzinger will sequester himself in a Vatican monastery where he will spend the balance of his days in prayer and contemplation. He has promised not to be involved with the new pope and to remain hidden.
In the meantime, he may now enjoy his rest, and watch from a distance, as the Church begins the holy and sacred tradition of selecting a new pontiff.
Pope Benedict will be surely missed.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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