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Pope's last appearances move to larger venues

Pope's last appearances move to larger venues
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Pope Benedict is to hold Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on Wednesday – perhaps the last time he does so in public.

He was due to have led a traditional Ash Wednesday service at a small church in Rome but the event was moved given the attention over the resignation.

His last address is due to take place on February 27, the day before his departure, in St Peter’s Square – which can hold hundreds of thousands of people. It had been scheduled for the Vatican’s audience hall, which has a capacity of some 10,000.

On Tuesday the Vatican revealed the Pope, who is 85, has been wearing a pacemaker since he was elected in 2005.

It said he was not resigning because of ill health, merely old age and declining mental and physical strength.

The Vatican plans a big send-off for Benedict, the first pontiff in centuries to stand down.