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Pope Benedict XVI Resigns: Last Day In Vatican (PICTURES)

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The Pope is bidding his final farewells to cardinals, Vatican staff and the Catholic world, as he prepares for his retirement on Thursday night.

On his last day as pontiff, Pope Benedict XVII addressed cardinals in the Vatican's Clementine Hall, Benedict said: "Among you there is also the future pope to whom I promise my unconditional obedience and reverence."

The cardinals queued up after speeches to kiss the Pope's fisherman's ring, emotions clear on the faces of many.

At 7pm, when the Pope is officially retired, the first in 600 years, the Swiss Guards in attendance will go off duty, no longer bound to protect the head of the Catholic church.

Pope Benedict will head to his summer retreat, Castel Gandolfo, by helicopter. He will retain a butler, two secretaries and four memores, the laywomen who care for him. Residents of the town have put up silver balloon letters, welcoming the Pope, saying in Italian 'Thank you Benedict, we are all with you'.

In two months time, he will return to the Vatican to a convent, where lodgings are being renovated.

Pope's Last Day
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