Pope to Hold Final Audience in Vatican

World | February 27, 2013, Wednesday // 07:28| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: Pope to Hold Final Audience in Vatican A file picture dated 19 April 2005 shows then newly elected Pope Benedict XVI greeting pilgrims while standing on the balcony of St. Peter`s Basilica, Vatican City. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The Pope will hold a final general audience in front of thousands of pilgrims in St Peter's Square on Wednesday, the eve of his resignation, BBC reported.

Papal audiences are normally held inside a Vatican hall in the winter.

But such is the level of interest that the event is being held outdoors and 50,000 tickets have been requested. But as many as 200,000 people may attend.

After Benedict XVI steps down on Thursday, he will become known as "pope emeritus".

There has been no papal resignation since Pope Gregory XII abdicated in 1415 and the surprise announcement of Benedict's abdication has required the rules of electing a successor to be changed to allow the next pope to be chosen before Holy Week, which leads up to Easter.

On Tuesday, it emerged that Benedict would be known as "pope emeritus" and would retain the honorific "His Holiness" after his abdication.

He will also continue to be known by his papal title of Benedict XVI, rather than reverting to Joseph Ratzinger.

He will wear his distinctive white cassock without any cape or trimmings.

He will surrender his gold ring of office, known as the fisherman's ring, and his personal seal will be destroyed in the same way as when a pope dies.

Benedict will also give up wearing his specially-made red leather loafers, instead wearing brown shoes hand-made for him by a craftsman during a brief visit to Mexico last year, the Vatican said.

The title "emeritus" is used when a person of status, such as a professor or bishop, hands over their position so their former rank can be retained in their title.

The Pope is to spend his final hours at his Vatican residence saying farewell to the cardinals who have been his closest aides during his eight-year pontificate, says the BBC's David Willey at the Vatican

His personal archive of documents will be packed up and, at 20:00 (19:00 GMT) on Thursday, the Swiss Guard on duty at his Castel Gandolfo residence will be dismissed, to be replaced by Vatican police.

This will mark the formal end of his papacy and the beginning of the period of transition to his successor, due to be chosen next month.

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