In keeping with his shy and modest ways, there was no public ceremony to mark the first papal resignation in six centuries.
But his words and calls for solidarity have been widely and warmly welcomed as a source of encouragement for members of the world’s largest church.
French nun, sister Julianne Molyneux belives Benedict’s presence will continue to be felt: “On the one hand it is sad because he is leaving, but on the other hand it is not sad because he is leaving with great conviction. He feels in harmony and at ease with his decision, he is leaving with conviction because he is going to support the Church through prayer and reflection.”
Sentiments shared by other visitors to St Peters Square.
“It’s very emotional, his departure is emotional with his act of humility and fantastic courage. Only a man of great spirituality like Benedict XVI could do it and naturally there is the emotion in waiting to see who his successor will be,” said one Italian visitor.
Pope Benedict has described his future life as being “hidden from the world” and while he will slip quietly from the world stage, it seems the man himself will not be forgotten.