Pope readies for final audience on resignation eve
VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI will hold the last audience of his pontificate in St Peter's Square on Wednesday on the eve of his historic resignation as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims are expected at the Vatican to bid a final farewell to an 85-year-old pope who abruptly cut short his pontificate by declaring he was too weak in body and mind to keep up with the modern world.
The Vatican says 50,000 people have obtained tickets for the event but many more may come and city authorities are preparing for 200,000, installing metal detectors in the area, deploying snipers and setting up field clinics.
No parking has been allowed in the zone since 10.00 pm local time on Tuesday, and cars were to be barred entirely on Wednesday.