- (Photo: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi)
Benedict XVI has become the first pope to resign in almost 700 years on Thursday, issuing a heartfelt goodbye and assuming the new title of ""Emeritus Pope."
The 85-year-old pontiff left the Vatican for the last time as pope on Thursday and flew by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo, where he made his final public address before a cheering crowd.
While "surrounded by the beauty of creation" on the special day, Benedict remarked on his happiness.
"I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this Earth," said the pontiff.
In response, the crowd shouted, "Long live the pope!"
A final message was also issued electronically via Twitter from the pontiff's official account, reading: "Thank you for your loyal love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives."
The Vatican's announced on Tuesday that once the pontiff steps down, his full title will be "His Holiness Benedict XVI, Roman pontiff emeritus."
Furthermore, Benedict will be known as "Your Holiness" and will continue to wear the white cassock associated with his papacy.
Benedict, born Joseph Ratzinger, served as head of the Roman Catholic Church since 2005. In a statement released on Feb. 11, the pope cited 'advanced age" as the reason for his resignation.
Following his renunciation, the pope will no longer wear his trademark red shoes, replacing them with handmade brown leather shoes from Mexico.
Also part of a custom at the end of a papacy, the pope's "fisherman's ring," which contains the formal seal, will be destroyed, according to The National Catholic Reporter.
Benedict is expected to stay temporarily at Castel Gandolfo outside the Vatican until renovations to a 3-story nunnery are completed. Once finished, Benedict will reside in the former nunnery inside the Vatican walls, just a few hundred yards from where his successor will reside in the Vatican Palace.
Once retired, Benedict said he would be "hidden from the world" and living a life of prayer, according to Fox News.