Pope blesses thousands at St Peter`s Square
Vatican City: Pope Benedict XVI blessed the faithful from his window overlooking St Peter`s Square for the first time since announcing his resignation, cheered by an emotional crowd of tens of thousands of well-wishers from around the world.
Smiling broadly, Benedict raised his arms outstretched to the massive crowd in his second-to-last Angelus blessing before leaving the papacy.
A huge banner in the square read: "We love you".
The Sunday noon appointment is one of the most cherished traditions of the Catholic Church, and this moment is one of Benedict`s last opportunities to connect with the Catholic masses.
The pope`s voice was strong and clear as he looked into hazy sunshine over the square packed with at least 50,000 pilgrims.
Benedict made no reference to his stunning decision to step down on February 28. But in an indirect nod, he thanked the faithful for their "affection and spiritual closeness”.
The crowd broke out into cheers and wild applause.
The pope gave particular thanks to the "beloved inhabitants of the city of Rome”, a possible hint at the title he will take after retirement. The Vatican has suggested he may be called "emeritus bishop of Rome”.
The traditional noon appointment normally attracts a few thousand pilgrims and tourists, but city officials prepared for a crush of people.
"We wanted to wish him well," said Amy Champion, a tourist from Wales. "It takes a lot of guts to take the job and even more guts ... To quit."
From Sunday evening, the pope will be out of the public eye for an entire week: A meditation service at the Vatican marks the beginning of the traditional Lenten period of reflection and prayer.
Rome threw on extra buses and subway trains to help deal with the crowds, and offered free shuttle vans for the elderly and disabled.
While cardinals elect his successor next month in a secrecy-steeped conclave in the Sistine Chapel, the 85-year-old Benedict, the first pontiff to resign in 600 years, will be in retreat at the Holy See`s summer estate in the hills southeast of Rome.
After several weeks, he is expected to move into a monastery being refurbished for him behind Vatican City`s walls and lead a largely cloistered life.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- Aware of Chinese submarine deployment at Balochistan's Gwadar port, says Navy chief
- Like SAARC, should India boycott Pak in Heart of Asia conference?
- 'Heart of Asia' Conference begins in Amritsar; Sartaj Aziz to pay a visit on Sunday
- Panel discussion over Mamata Banerjee's false allegations on Indian Army for political gains
- Watch: Reports on final deal of M-777 tanks between India and America
- Gujarat businessman declares highest ever black money amount – Rs 13,000 crore!
- Rs 14,000 crore default case: Gujarat businessman detained, says money belongs to politicians, babus
- Newly-wed couple Yuvraj Singh and Hazel Keech perform `bhangra` at Goa airport – Viral video
- Gujarat man who disclosed Rs 14,000 crore unaccounted wealth goes missing
- Rahul Dravid heaps praise on Virat Kohli, R Ashwin; calls duo modern cricket legends