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February 27, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI's last general audience

Pope Benedict XVI appeared at his final weekly general audience today at St. Peter’s Square in front of an estimated 150,000 people recalling moments of "joy and light’’ as well as difficulty during his eight years as pontiff. Benedict, 85, said he decided to retire after realizing he didn’t have the "strength of mind or body" to carry on. Benedict meets tomorrow with cardinals for a final time before traveling to his retirement residence at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome. -- Lloyd Young ( 25 photos total)

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he passes thousands of pilgrims and well wishers in St. Peter's Square after holding his final weekly general audience of his tenure today. (Michael Kappeler/European Pressphoto Agency)

A pilgrim shows her emotions as she attends Pope Benedict XVI's final general audience in St. Peter's Square before his retirement on Feb. 27 in Vatican City, Vatican. The Pontiff held his last weekly public audience today before stepping down tomorrow. Pope Benedict XVI has been the leader of the Catholic Church for eight years and is the first Pope to retire since 1415. He cites ailing health as his reason for retirement and will spend the rest of his life in solitude away from public engagements. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) #

Pilgrims hold a banner as they attend Pope Benedict XVI's final general audience in St Peter's Square. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) #

St. Peter's Square, Vatican City packed with tens of thousands of pilgrims and well wishers as they attend Pope Benedict's final weekly general audience of his tenure at St. Peter's Square. (Allesandro Di Meo/European Pressphoto Agency) #

A Swiss guard stands in front of the Vatican as Pope Benedict XVI delivers his final general audience in St Peter's Square before his retirement. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) #

Pope Benedict XVI arrives on St. Peter's square for his last weekly audience today at the Vatican on the eve of his historic resignation as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. (AFP/Getty Images) #

Faithful gather during Pope Benedict XVI's last general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican today. Benedict XVI basked in an emotional sendoff Wednesday at his final general audience in St. Peter's Square, recalling moments of "joy and light" during his papacy but also times of great difficulty. He also thanked his flock for respecting his decision to retire. (Oded Balilty/Associated Press) #

Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (right) greets other Cardinals as he arrives on St Peter's Square ahead of Pope Benedict XVI's last weekly audience on Feb. 27. (AFP/Getty Images) #

The sun lights up the head of the Saint Peter Statue at St. Peter's Square, Vatican City, on a momentous day that saw the final weekly Wednesday general audience of Pope Benedict XVI before his resignation on Feb. 28. (Claudio Peri/European Pressphoto Agency) #

Faithful gather for Pope Benedict XVI's last general audience in St. Peter's Square. (Oded Balilty/Associated Press) #

A faithful looks at St. Peter's basilica through binoculars on St Peter's Square ahead of Pope Benedict XVI's last weekly audience. (AFP/Getty Images) #

Pope Benedict XVI is seen at right as he arrives on his pope-mobile to his last general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican on Feb. 27. (Dmitry Lovetsky/Associated Press) #

Pope Benedict XVI waves to faithful during his final general audience in St.Peter's Square at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI has recalled moments of "joy and light" during his papacy but also times of great difficulty in an emotional, final general audience. (Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press) #

Nuns wait in the crowd for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images) #

A poster showing Pope Benedict XVI's portrait hangs in front of St. Anthony of Padua Church reading "Thank you holy father" on Feb. 27. (AFP/Getty Images) #

Faithful gather for Pope Benedict XVI's last general audience in St. Peter's Square. (Oded Balilty/Associated Press) #

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful as he arrives in St. Peter's Square for his final general audience on Feb. 27. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images) #

A Swiss Guard stands in St. Peter's Square ahead of Pope Benedict XVI's final general audience before his retirement. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) #

A pilgrim prays as he attends Pope Benedict XVI's final general audience in St Peter's Square. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) #

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square during his final general audience on Feb. 27. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images) #

A nun is drawn to a window in St. Peter's Square, Vatican City by the noise generated by the growing thousands of pilgrims and well-wishers waiting for Pope Benedict XVI's final weekly Wednesday general audience. (Ettore Ferrari/European Pressphoto Agency) #

Pope Benedict XVI waves from his pope-mobile as he rides through a packed St. Peter's Square at the Vatican during his last general audience. The weekly event which would normally be held in a vast auditorium in winter, but has been moved outdoors to St. Peter's Square so more people can attend. (Stefano Rellandini/Reuters) #

Pope Benedict XVI touches a child as he arrives in St. Peter's Square for his final general audience on Feb. 27. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images) #

A view of a packed St. Peter's Square where Pope Benedict XVI held his last general audience at the Vatican on Feb. 27. (Max Rossi/Reuters) #

Pope Benedict XVI leaves the altar at the end of his last weekly audience on Feb. 27, at St. Peter's square at the Vatican on the eve of his historic resignation as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. (Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images) #



 
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