Benedict Departs Vatican, Ends Papacy

Doors symbolically closed as he flies to summer residence
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2013 2:04 PM CST
Benedict Departs Vatican, Ends Papacy
Members of the public and the media wait for Vatican Swiss guards to close the main door of the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, Feb. 28, 2013.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The massive doors to the pope's Castel Gandolfo residence have swung shut, symbolically ending Pope Benedict XVI's tenure as pope. The doors closed just after 8pm local time (2pm Eastern), USA Today reports, about three hours after Benedict had left the Vatican for the last time as pope and boarded a helicopter to take him to the residence.

Bells chimed as the helicopter flew across Rome. It was a short flight, just 17 minutes, after which a limousine took Benedict on a slow ride to the villa, where a massive crowd had gathered. Benedict addressed them from the balcony, saying, "This day brings me great joy. ... I feel very fortunate." Earlier, he issued a final tweet: "Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the (center) of your lives." (Read more Pope Benedict XVI stories.)

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