Pope Benedict XVI began his final round of public appearances as pontiff at 10.30 on Wednesday 13 February, two days after he announced that he would resign at the end of the month.
Speaking from the Vatican audience hall at the weekly general audience the Pope said that he had made his decision to resign "in full liberty for the good of the church". The pontiff, who received a standing ovation from the crowd, said he is aware of the gravity of his choice but also of his diminishing strength.
Later on 13 February, at 17.00, he will celebrate the Ash Wednesday Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, which is being reported as “probably be his last major liturgical event”. The location of the mass was transferred at the last minute from the S. Sabina church on the Aventine – following the Pope's unexpected announcement – due to the large crowds expected.
His next public appointment will be at midday on Sunday 17 February for the Angelus, in St Peter's Square, followed by his last Angelus as Pope on Sunday 24 February.
Pope Benedict XVI's general audience on Wednesday 27 February is predicted to be a major occasion as it will most likely be the final public event of his papacy.
Following his resignation at 20.00 on 28 February, Benedict XVI will go to his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo before retiring to the Mater Eclessiae monastery. Situated inside the Vatican walls, the monastery was built in the 1990s under the pontificate of John Paul II and is currently undergoing renovation work.