Pope Benedict XVI will formally become an 'ex-pope' at eight in the evening Thursday, the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years.
While giving his last mass appearance February 24 in Vatican City, the spiritual leader said that he will dedicate himself to prayers and meditation after resigning from the post.
"The Lord is calling me to climb the mountain, to dedicate myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the church," said the Pope while addressing thousands of his dedicated devotees at the final mass prayer.
As the pope was about to sit down, experts were discussing the legacy of the spiritual leader.
Eamon Duffy, a professor at Cambridge University said that the Pope's time in charge was a story of personal success, saying he was approachable and kind, notwithstanding his resignation that came amid unaddressed sex scandals hounding the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
"He's a kindly and mild person, easily approachable, and although he took a tough doctrinal line, as an individual, he's extremely personable;" the Telegraph quoted the professor, as saying.
The Pope resigned citing health issues and he made the surprise announcement earlier this month.
Following the formal resignation, 115 cardinals will gather in the Vatican city to elect a successor. The new Pope is expected to be selected by mid-march.
According to the odd makers, nominees for the post are cardinals from Canada, Africa and Asia.
There were three Canadian nominees and Marc Quellet of Quebec was the second leading Candidate for the post.
After the resignation, Benedict XVI said that he would be moving to Castel Gandolfo; the papal summer residence, where Benedict will stay for two months before going to a former nunnery in the Vatican City.
Benedict XVI was elected in 2005 at the age of 78 and he was the oldest Pope to be elected as head of the Catholic church since Pope Clement XII (1730-40)
To contact the editor, e-mail: