Benedict XVI made his final public appearance as pope before tearful crowds at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence, on February 28.
Benedict officially ceased to be the Pope at 20:00 local time, taking on his new title of pope emeritus.
The retiring pope said he was “no longer the supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church” – but “simply a pilgrim who is starting the last phase of his pilgrimage on this earth.”
He stepped down after nearly eight years in office, becoming the first pontiff to resign for 600 years.
Benedict pledged “unconditional obedience and reverence” to his successor – and told the cardinals who will chose the next pope to follow the guidance of God in that task.
Earlier, bells rang out from St. Peter’s Basilica and churches all over Rome, as the outgoing pope bid farewell to monsignors, nuns, Vatican staff and Swiss Guards.
In a final tweet, Benedict thanked his flock for their love and support and wished that they may “always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.”