By Sandra Birungi
Early February, Pope Benedict XVI announced his desire to step down from papacy becoming the first pope in 600 years to cede the title and surprised the world.
However, the pope is supposed to officially cede the title Thursday February 28th at 8:00pm (Rome time).
Today, the pope is going to hold his last and final audience at St. Peter’s Square which is set to hold over 50,000 people. After today’s farewell ceremony, he will meet a select group of heads of state and make final preparations for his departure. Thursday morning, he will bid farewell to his cardinals who will then begin a series of meetings to determine his successor.
On Thursday, tomorrow, the pope will be expected to travel by helicopter to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, about 15 miles (24km) south-east of Rome. He remain there until renovations have been completed on a monastery inside the Vatican walls.
For as long as he lives, Pope Benedict XVI will live out the rest of his days in the new monastery in prayer and meditation. He will be known as Emeritus Pope and wear a simple white cassock and brown shoes.
At exactly 8pm (Rome time), the villa gates at Castel Gandolfo will close and the Swiss Guard will withdraw – a symbol that Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy is over.