Inside Benedict's Final Day as Pope

Pontiff meets with cardinals, tells them, 'Among you is the future pope'

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 28, 2013 2:07 AM CST | Updated Feb 28, 2013 7:40 AM CST

(Newser) – It's Pope Benedict XVI's last day on the job, but don't expect much fanfare: There won't be a major ceremony or declaration, Reuters reports. Clad in a red ceremonial cape called a mozzetta, the AP notes that he met with some 100 cardinals at the Apostolic Palace this morning to say goodbye, telling them, "Among you is the future pope ... to whom I today declare my unconditional reverence and obedience." After a short helicopter ride, Benedict will hold his final public appearance from a balcony at the papal summer residence, Castel Gandolfo, just south of Rome; about 7,000 are expected to be there, Sky News reports, contrasting with yesterday's 150,000.

Benedict officially retires at 2pm Eastern time. At that time—8pm locally—the Swiss Guards outside the residence will prepare to head back to Rome. Benedict himself will stay for two months before moving to a renovated convent at the Vatican. The palace at Castel Gandolfo overlooks a lake and the main square of the medieval town, considered one of the most beautiful in Italy, AFP notes. "Here the pope will find a family atmosphere. There are no great works of art, no huge rooms," says an official. At Castel Gandolfo, the pope said in 2011, "I find everything: a mountain, a lake, I even see the sea." The words now appear on a town hall plaque.

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message on the occasion of his farewell meeting to cardinals, at the Vatican, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message on the occasion of his farewell meeting to cardinals, at the Vatican, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.   (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message on the occasion of his farewell meeting to cardinals, at the Vatican, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message on the occasion of his farewell meeting to cardinals, at the Vatican, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.   (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)
Pope Benedict XVI greets pilgrims at the end of his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013.
Pope Benedict XVI greets pilgrims at the end of his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Faithful are reflected in the roof of Pope Benedict XVI's pope-mobile as he arrives to celebrate his last general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013.
Faithful are reflected in the roof of Pope Benedict XVI's pope-mobile as he arrives to celebrate his last general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message on the occasion of his farewell meeting to cardinals, at the Vatican, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message on the occasion of his farewell meeting to cardinals, at the Vatican, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.   (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message on the occasion of his farewell meeting to cardinals, at the Vatican, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message on the occasion of his farewell meeting to cardinals, at the Vatican, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.   (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message on the occasion of his farewell meeting to cardinals, at the Vatican, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message on the occasion of his farewell meeting to cardinals, at the Vatican, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.   (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his final greetings to the assembly of cardinals at the Vatican Thursday Feb. 28, 2013, before he retires in a few hours.
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his final greetings to the assembly of cardinals at the Vatican Thursday Feb. 28, 2013, before he retires in a few hours.   (AP Photo/Vatican TV)
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