Pope Gives Final Audience

By Tara MacIsaac On February 27, 2013 @ 5:51 am In Europe | No Comments

Pope Benedict XVI waves from the altar during his last weekly audience on Feb. 27, 2013 on St Peter's square at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI will hold the last audience of his pontificate in St Peter's Square on Wednesday on the eve of his historic resignation as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. (Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Benedict XVI waves from the altar during his last weekly audience on Feb. 27, 2013 on St Peter's square at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI will hold the last audience of his pontificate in St Peter's Square on Wednesday on the eve of his historic resignation as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. (Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Benedict XVI gives his final audience to tens of thousands gathered at the Vatican. Vatican Radio reported that up to 200,000 are expected, with 50,000 having pre-registered. A normal audience in February is much less—last year at this time, the audience numbered 7,500 and the year before, 4,500. 

The Pope’s abdication—the first papal abdication since the Middle Ages—will take effect Thursday.

A greeting read to the Pope from English-speaking Catholics expressed, “sentiments of affection and esteem. We assure you of our gratitude.”

The Pope said in an English, “I was deeply grateful for the understanding, support, and prayers not only of those in Rome.” He said he had received much support from Catholics around the world. He asked the people to pray for him and for the next Pope. 

The Pope will bless religious articles and the Pope’s blessings will go to children and the sick, announced a clergyman. 

“I commend all of you with great affection to His loving care.”

A greeting from Catholics in the Pope’s native Germany expressed “tiefe Dankbarheit,” (deep gratitude) for his eight years of service.

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