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.