Saying Farewell: Pope Benedict 16th Leaves the Vatican (With Photos)

By KBJR News 1

Pope Benedict and Vatican leaders gathering in the helicopter that will take him to his new home at Castel Gandolfo.

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    Thousands gathered in Rome, chanting Benedict's name in Italian and saying goodbye to the Pope.

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February 28, 2013 Updated Feb 28, 2013 at 1:29 PM CST

Rome, Italy (NNCNOW.com) --- To the tune of bells and a ripple of applause and thousands chanting his name in Italian, Pope Benedict the 16th left the Vatican for the last time.

Riding along in a helicopter with Vatican leaders, flying over historical and iconic structures across Rome, Benedict made his way to the Papal summer home of Castel Gandolfo, where he will stay until his home behind the walls of the Vatican is ready.

Benedict's departure was quiet as is characteristic of his shy demeanor.

During his ride to Castel Gandolfo, Benedict sent out his final tweet saying:

"Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives."

In his final meeting with the Cardinals at the Apostolic Palace, Benedict promised unconditional reverence and obedience to his successor. He is also calling for unity in choosing his successor.

The first part of the process to elect a new Pope will start on Monday as the Cardinals meet at the Vatican. This is expected to take five days or longer before they head into the Conclave to vote.

As for Benedict, he says his final years will be spent hidden in prayer.

Posted to the web by Krista Burns