On 28th February 2013, Pope Benedict XVI put into action a thought provoking decision he made on 10th February 2013. This was the day he made public his decision to resign from the seat of Saint Peter.
It was around 16:55, hour of Rome that Pope Benedict XVI started baring farewell to all his close collaborators at the Vatican City. It was a solemn moment full of mixed emotion! On this historical evening, he made sure to shake hands with each and every member of his household, ranging from the workers to his straight collaborators in the Roman Curia. A moving moment that left some of them with tears, it was.
After saluting his collaborators, he then turned to board the car that was to take him to the heliport inside the Eternal City. It was also a special moment with an executive convoy led by the Italian Security Service attached the Holy Sea.
Meanwhile, before finally boarding the car, he turned to the camera and waved to an immense crowd gathered at Saint Peter’s Square to witness this particular and single event. Among the thousands of people gathered at the square were many journalists from different Continents and different international media houses of different media types – written, audio and video media. After this brief salutation, he then boarded the car and the journey that was to bring to an end his papacy commenced. It took some few minutes to arrive at the heliport.
Without neither protocols nor ceremony, the helicopter started off at 17: 06 hour of Rome. When the pilot airlifted the pope, he made a round tour of the Eternal City and it’s vicinity to show his last respect to his nearest neighbours. It was a marvellous moment as those who came out on top of their terrazzo to have a glimpse of his departure saw him come slowly and close to them.
Having completed the round of the Eternal City, the helicopter returned towards Saint Peter’s Square, where the bells of the Cathedra have been resonating since the airlift of the Pope. And with tears of joy, the crowd in the Square waved at him as they watch him disappear in sky, never to return again to the Eternal City as the Summer Pontiff.
However, thanks to modern technology, like the disciples on the day of Ascension, we gazed at him on the screen at the Square. There were also other bells in the City of Rome which were announcing the great departure of our beloved Pope Benedict from the City he has always animated with his thought provoking teachings.
Some tens of minutes later, the helicopter arrived at Castel Gandolfo. There again, were thousands of People waiting for his arrival at this post where he was to start his first days as Pope emeritus. At his arrival, he made his last public speech as Pope. He started this speech by congratulating his entire diocesan members who have always sustained and showered him with affections, more especially in these last days of his papacy. Before giving his last public benediction as Pope, he told those present that he was to start the last part of his pilgrimage on earth and that he is promising an unconditional obedience to his successor. And then he gave the final benediction and wishing the crowd a goodnight he went in not to be seen again as the Summer Pontiff.