During his term as spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic church, he was merely known as Pope Benedict XVI. But on Feb. 28 at 8:00 p.m., once his resignation and abdication becomes official, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger will get to maintain and be conferred three titles by the Vatican: His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus or Roman Pontiff Emeritus.
The outgoing 85-year-old pontiff, who on Monday signed several decrees to ensure a swift and smooth election of a successor, suffice to say, is more than ready to fly out from Vatican to lead a quieter life.
Not only did he revise at the speed of lightning and ordered approved for implementation the new rules surrounding the conduct of the 2013 papal conclave, he likewise got to decide and choose his official attire once his resignation becomes formal.
For one, he had decided to give up the red shoes that the Roman Catholics had grown accustomed to over the years of his tenure, albeit controversially. Instead, he had chosen to just keep a pair of brown shoes, new nevertheless, that was given to him on a recent trip to Mexico.
He had likewise chosen to wear a simple, white cassock but minus the mozzetta, or the short cape that covers his shoulders. Presumably because only the reigning pope gets to wear this.
The 265th pope will likewise need to remove, replace and have his ring as Pope Benedict XVI destroyed, as well as his seal. In lieu of the fisherman's ring worn by popes, he will wear an episcopal ring from his time as Cardinal Ratzinger.
On Tuesday, he had already packed his bags, as well as sorted and stowed documents that will be sent to the various Vatican archives. The Renaissance masterpieces on the walls of his study at Sixtus V's majestic palazzo, as well as the ancient cabinets and tapestries, even the gifts from heads of state and cardinals who visited him during his 8-year tenure as pope, needs to be left behind.
What remains are his books and piano, but these will immediately be sent to him to Mater Ecclesiae, the small Vatican convent where he will spend his last years.
On Wednesday, Benedict will have his final public general audience in St. Peter's Square, an event expected to have 50,000 people based on ticket requests. Afterwards, he will have a private meeting with visiting leaders from Slovakia, San Marino, Andorra and his native Bavaria.
On the morning of Thursday, he will spend some time in a meeting to see his cardinals.
At 5 p.m. that same day, he will be transferred to Castel Gandolfo, the papal residence south of Rome, via helicopter, where he is afterwards expected to greet and acknowledge the presence of parishioners from its balcony. His very last public act as pope.
Three hours later, at 8 p.m., Feb. 28, his resignation as the first pope to abdicate the post in 600 years becomes official. The Swiss Guards assigned to protect him since becoming pope on April 24, 2005 then will leave their posts, knowing fully well their jobs are done.
And thus starts His Holiness Benedict XVI's simpler, quieter life as a man of God, "hidden from the world." Well, at least.
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