February 24, 2013. (Romereports.com)
It was the last time that Benedict XVI appeared before his studio window to lead the Angelus as Pope. It's estimated that about 200,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square to thank the Pope for his eight year Pontificate.
Some came with banners to thank the Pope and be part of history. With only days left as Pope, Benedict XVI clearly spoke about his retirement. In Italian he said, God is asking me to serve the Church in a way that's more appropriate for my age and strength. BENEDICT XVI“The Lord is calling me 'out to the mountain' to devote more time to prayer and meditation, but this does not mean I'm abandoning the Church. In fact, if God is asking this of me, it's precisely to continue serving the Church with the same dedication and love with which I have served so far, but in a way that's more suited for my age and strength.”
The Pope's Angelus was repeatedly interrupted by applause and cheers. Before completing the last Angelus of his Pontificate, the Pope said he will always be close to the Church and its people. BENEDICT XVI“Thank you, I will always be near you.”
This Angelus was the Pope's first public appearance, following a spiritual retreat which ended on Saturday. On Monday he will meet with Cardinals of the Roman Curia and on Wednesday, he will celebrate his last General Audience in St. Peter's Square.