February 13, 2013. (Romereports.com)
The Mass for the distribution of the ashes
was greatly emotional as Benedict XVI
celebrated his last major ceremony.
Benedict XVI entered St. Peter's Basilica on a mobile platform
, which he will no longer have a need for. As Pope, he kissed the basilica's altar
for the last time. He also received the ashes for last time as the Successor of Peter.
Conscious of the historic, yet difficult moment, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
was unable to hold back tears
as he thanked the Pope. The emotion was common among his closest collaborators as they openly wept, including his personal secretary, Georg Gaewnswein
CARD. TARCISIO BERTONE
Vatican Secretary of State
“Thank you for having given us a bright example of a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord, a worker, however, that has known at each moment to do what was most important: bring God to man and man to God.”
The ceremony kicked off the Lenten Season, the 40 days of preparation for the Holy Week and Easter. This year the dates will coincide with the last days of Benedict XVI as Pope, as well as the Sede Vacante period, the conclave, and perhaps the fumata bianca signaling the election of a new Pope.
“For me it is a proper moment to thank everyone, especially the faithful from the Diocese of Rome, while I prepare to conclude the Petrine ministry, and to ask to remember me in prayer.”
Worshipers and clergy responded to his request with thunderous applause.
“Let us return to prayer.”
On Thursday, Benedict XVI, as the Bishop of Rome, will meet with the priests from his diocese, as had been previously planned. The event will likely become emotional as well since the Pope is expected to offer his personal memories of the Second Vatican Council.