"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is."Pope Benedict XVI - 11th February 2013
"Thank you – thank you from my heart!
Dear friends, I'm happy to be with you, that I can see the Creator's beauty around us, and all the goodness you've given to me – thank you for your friendship and your affection!
You know that this day of mine hasn't been like those before. I'm no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic church – at least, at 8 o'clock I won't be – now I'm just a pilgrim beginning the last part of his journey on earth.
With all my heart, with all my love, with my prayer and all my strength – with everything in me – I'd like to work for the common good of the church and all humanity. I feel your kindness so much.
Let us always move together toward the Lord for the good of the church and of the world. Thank you for bringing yourselves [here] – with all my heart, I give you my blessing….
Thank you and goodnight!"
One year ago, at 8PM, local time in Rome, the Swiss Guards closed the doors to the Apostolic Palace at Castel Ganfoldo. This simple act came to symbolize the end of Benedict XVI's pontificate, and the start of the Sede Vacante. Minutes earlier, the Pope emeritus had addressed a crowd outside the Palace, telling them he was "simply a pilgrim the last leg of his pilgrimage on Earth.” As the Catholic Church closed a chapter in its history, a new one would begin shortly.