are some of the most striking images from today, Pope Benedict XVI’s last day
as Supreme Pontiff. All images are courtesy Catholic News Service:
Pope Benedict XVI addresses the College of Cardinals at the Vatican Feb. 28, the final day of his papacy. In attendance were 144 cardinals, including many of the 115 younger than 80 who are eligible and expected to vote in the upcoming conclave.
A poster erected by the city of Rome thanking Pope Benedict XVI is seen near the Vatican Feb. 28. The poster says in Italian: "You will remain always with us. Thanks."
A woman and a Missionaries of Charity nun react as they watch a giant screen showing the departure of Pope Benedict XVI from the Vatican to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, Feb. 28.
A helicopter carrying Pope Benedict XVI takes off from inside the Vatican on its way to Castel Gandolfo.
Clergy and seminarians from the Pontifical North American College in Rome watch from the school's rooftop as the helicopter carrying Pope Benedict XVI departs the Vatican.
Pope Benedict XVI greets a crowd gathered for his arrival in Castel Gandolfo. It was his final public appearance before he drew to a close his papacy. "I am a simple pilgrim who begins the last stage of his pilgrimage on this earth," he said.
People watch from windows before Pope Benedict XVI's final public appearance as pope in Castel Gandolfo.
A member of the Swiss Guard closes the main door of the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo at 8 p.m. Feb. 28. The Swiss Guard concluded its protective service to Pope Benedict XVI, signaling the end of his papacy.
Vatican workers seal the doors leading to the pope's private apartment in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican Feb. 28. Pope Benedict XVI ended his reign pledging unconditional obedience to whoever is elected to succeed him.
The statue of Christ the Redeemer, flanked by ones of St. John the Baptist and St. Andrew, is seen in a nighttime view of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 28.
This is the Vatican insignia representing a the "sede vacante" (vacant see).