After eight years of his papacy, the Pope said his final farewell to the Vatican last night with and vanished in the sunset.
An air force helicopter with the Pontiff circled Rome, passing over the Colosseum to give Benedict XVI one last view of the city.
Bells rang out from St Peter‚Äôs Basilica in the Vatican and churches all over Rome as the Pope flew overhead, reports The Daily Mail.
Before leaving, the Pontiff said his farewell to the monsignors, nuns, Vatican staff and Swiss Guards who make up the papal household.
He also took to Twitter to deliver the last message, saying: ‚ÄúThank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.‚ÄĚ
Accompanied by his personal assistant Georg Ganswein, a former ski instructor known as Gorgeous George, the Pope finished his short journey in the papal summer palace 15 miles south-east of the Italian capital.
On the balcony of the Castel Gandolfo, where he will spend the next two months, he made his final appearance as Pope.
A visibly moved Benedict said: ‚ÄúThank you for your affection and your friendship. I am now just a simple pilgrim.‚ÄĚ
The Pontiff had previously said that he was ‘simply a pilgrim about to start his last journey on Earth’ and gave ‘a heartfelt thank you’ before disappearing inside the Apostolic Palace in the town.
‚ÄúDear friends, I’m happy to be with you, surrounded by the beauty of creation and your well-wishes, which do me such good,‚ÄĚ the Pope said.
‚ÄúThank you for your friendship, and your affection. You know this day is different for me than the preceding ones: I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8 o’clock this evening and then no more.‚ÄĚ
He continued: ‚ÄúI am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this Earth.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúBut I would still … thank you … I would still with my heart, with my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, and with all my inner strength, like to work for the common good and the good of the church and of humanity. I feel very supported by your sympathy.‚ÄĚ
Benedict concluded his speech, saying: ‚ÄúLet us go forward with the Lord for the good of the church and the world. Thank you, I now wholeheartedly impart my blessing. Blessed be God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Good night! Thank you all!‚ÄĚ
The Pontiff, walking with the aid of a cane, left his private apartments at the Vatican shortly before 4pm GMT.
And even on his last day as the Pontiff, the controversy over his resignation continued with surprisingly growing criticism of a senior cardinal.
George Pell¬†of Australia said the Pope‚Äôs decision to resign set a disconcerting and potentially dangerous precedent for the Roman Catholic Church, The Telegraph writes.
“People who, for example, might disagree with a future pope, will mount a campaign to get him to resign,” said Cardinal Pell, 71, the Archbishop of Sydney, who will take part in the conclave to elect a new pontiff.
He also claimed that Benedict had been “well aware” that his resignation would be “slightly destabilising”.