February 11, 2013: The day started off just like any other. At 11.00a.m. Pope Benedict XVI met with cardinals to announce three canonizations. But Benedict XVI added another item to the list...one that would forever mark the Catholic Church.
"Due to an advanced age, I am no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”
The 85 year-old Pope had announced his resignation. Cardinals seemed shock and confused. At that point, they were the only ones who knew. Them along with a handful of journalists covering the meeting.
Just moments later, at 11.46 a.m, two news agencies broke the story within the same minute. French Agency, I Media and Ansa. But still, the world media was somewhat skeptical, until the Vatican announced a press conference at roughly 12.07 Rome time.
The hours that followed, the story ran like wildfire. During that press conference, at roughly 1pm, it was announced, that at the end of the month the Pope would go to Castel Gandolfo.
FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI
"On the 28th, at around 5p.m. In the evening, the Pope will take off on helicopter to Castel Gandolfo. We already knew he would go there, but now we know the exact time.”
The Vatican's Newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, ran a special edition that day.
It was a shocking story both inside and outside Vatican Walls. More than 600 years had passed since a Pontiff had retired. It was Benedict XVI, a traditional and conservative Pope, who decided to break that mold.
The Pope's resignation would become official on February 28th, at 8pm Rome time.
But that day, the most shocking day in the Church's modern history, as the world stood in shock and disbelief, Benedict XVI made no other comment or appearance, retreating to the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, where he lived.