Reaction in St Peter’s Square

24 hours after the shock announcement of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on the morning of 11 February it was business as usual in a cold but sunny St Peter's Square.

The only difference was the excited, almost tense atmosphere among the crowd, while journalists and film crews conducted interviews at the top of Via della Conciliazione.

Wanted in Rome asked some visiting international tourists and pilgrims for their reaction to the big news. The majority of people declined to comment but the following remarks are from those who did.

Describing it as an "historical event" Martin Owens from Manchester said he believed "it's the man's choice – if he is ill and unable to do the job, at least he's had the decency to stand down. I'm not a religious person but I still understand what this news is like to those who do believe. I hope he lives long into his retirement, and good luck to him."

Mathew Atemkeng from Cameroon said he was as surprised as everybody else but was unable to offer a "precise opinion" until he heard "what they are going to say and hopefully explain" about the Pope's decision.

Derek and Valerie Worboys, a retired couple from Herefordshire in England had just arrived in Rome. Valerie said "I'm not a Catholic but I do think it’s a pity. Although if he suffers he must go, he must do what he wants to do, he's done his bit. We suffer ourselves from infirmity and it’s not very nice, so I agree with his decision."

Harry Schafer from Chicago was visiting Rome with a group of fellow young people. He said "Obviously something internal has happened in the papacy. Benedict wasn't that well liked, maybe it's time to get a younger guy – more user-friendly.”

However nobody was more surprised than Maria Fernanda Herandez and Alejandro Acuña from Mexico who heard the news directly from Wanted in Rome, a full day after it made headlines around the world. Standing in front of St Peter's Basilica, it was a spectacular place to learn of the Pope’s announcement. A visibly stunned Maria remained speechless, while Alejandro eventually managed "We are shocked.”