Catholics prepare for Pope’s final audience

Catholics around the world will be focused on the Vatican today, as Pope Benedict XVI prepares for his final papal audience, this time not in the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall, where it is typically held on Wednesday mornings, but inSt. Peter’s Square, where at least 200,000 people are expected to attend and bid him a heartfelt farewell.

As of 2:00 p.m. tomorrow when his resignation goes into effect, the Pope will become the Roman pontiff emeritus or pope emeritus and be known as His Holiness Benedict XVI. Although authorized to do so, Cardinals have yet to decide whether they will start the conclave to elect a new Pope sooner.

After Thursday, Benedict XVI will still wear a white cassock but without the mozzetta, the short cape that covers his shoulders; he will no longer wear the red shoes typically worn by the Pope and will instead wear a pair of brown loafers gifted to him during a visit to León, Mexico in 2012.

On Thursday, the Pope will head to Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence, for a few days of rest. Benedict XVI will lead a quiet life of prayer in the Vatican after the new Pope is chosen by the Conclave of Cardinals.

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