The head of the Catholic Church left Rome, Italy, in a helicopter headed for Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence located about 15 miles from the Vatican. The Pope's resignation becomes effective at 2 p.m. ET, or 8 p.m. in Italy, three hours after leaving Rome.
The Pope had his last public audience in Rome on Feb. 27, 2013. The Pope rode through Rome and waved to the crowds of faithful gathered to witness the historic moment. Benedict met with the Cardinals on Feb. 28, before leaving the Vatican. He made his final appearance as head of the Catholic Church upon his arrival at Castel Gandolfo on Feb. 28, 2013.
Benedict will be in seclusion in the resort town of until his successor is appointed. In several months, he will move into a convent on the grounds of the Vatican, with a view of the dome of St. Stephen's in Rome, Italy. Benedict expects to live a life of prayer as the Roman Pope Emeritus.
Pope Benedict XVI made history as the first pope to resign since 1415, nearly 600 years ago. His resignation, announced on Feb. 11, 2013, shocked many of the faithful and people around the world.
The conclave to elect the next pope is expected to start in mid-March. Benedict is not expected to have a direct role in the selection his successor.