Pope Benedict’s last general audience (aka retirement party)

Here are some of my best pictures that I took at the Pope’s last general audience and public appearance today.  I didn’t find out that he would be passing through the square in his popemobile until about five minutes before it started so that made the event more exciting than just hearing him speak in Italian (which he did)  the entire time, although he did briefly speak in English.  When the Pope passed by where I was standing in the square I was no more than 10 yards away from him, closer than I ever thought I would be to a Pope.  Benedict leaves the Vatican tomorrow by helicopter and will be staying in Castel Gandolfo, the Papal summer residence south of Rome, until his new home is finished for him within Vatican City.  As of tomorrow night at 8:00p.m. Rome time when he officially resigns, he will be called “Pope Emeritus,” will surrender his Papal fisherman ring which will be destroyed, and he will still wear the traditional papal white clothes.  Many of the Cardinals who will participate in the Conclave to elect Benedict’s successor were at the audience today in St. Peter’s Square.  The exact date for when the Conclave is set to begin has yet to be confirmed by the Vatican, so for now we wait…

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