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Pope readies departure after emotional public farewell

Published on Feb 28, 2013 9:23 AM
 
Pope Benedict XVI greets the crowd during last general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican on Feb 27, 2013. Pope Benedict XVI was spending his last night in his Vatican apartments on Thursday after bidding an emotional farewell to 150,000 pilgrims in St Peter's Square on the eve of his historic resignation. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI was spending his last night in his Vatican apartments on Thursday after bidding an emotional farewell to 150,000 pilgrims in St Peter's Square on the eve of his historic resignation.

The German pontiff was greeted with whoops, chants and cheers. Huge banners carried messages such as "Benedict, we'll miss you!" and "The pope is the heart of this city!"

In his speech, the 85-year-old spoke of "stormy waters" in an apparent reference to the multiple scandals that have plagued his reign, and said he had decided to resign for the good of the Roman Catholic Church.

"The Lord gave us days of sun and of light breeze, days in which the fishing was good," said the head of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

 
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