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From Pope to Pilgrim, Benedict XVI's final hours in office

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From Pope to Pilgrim, Benedict XVI's final hours in office

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The hour has rung for the final farewell to Benedict XVI. As of 8 o’clock local time on Thursday he was no longer pope.

The 85-year-old German pontiff will officially continue to be known as Benedict XVI, with the new title of “Pope Emeritus”, but he preferred a more humble title.

“I am no longer the supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church. I am simply a pilgrim who is starting the last phase of his pilgrimage on this earth.”

As he said his last goodbyes he was greeted by rapturous applause from top officials in the Curia – the administrative body that runs the Holy See. His resignation was marked by the Swiss Guards at the gate of Castel Gandolfo marching off to return to the Vatican.

Leaving in style, Benedict was flown by helicopter to the papal retreat. Beginning his more humble life, he will wear a simple white cassock and swap his famous red shoes for brown.