Ride the Popemobile for the last time with Pope Benedict

For the very last time Benedict XVI rode the Popemobile to greet the pilgrims gathered for the general audience at St. Peter’s Square.

In bright winter sunshine, the 85-year-old German Pope was driven around St Peter’s Square in a white Mercedes jeep.

During the course of the journey, the frail Pope Benedict waved to the 150,000 strong crowd and and even kissed a baby presented to him.

In return his supporters cheered, applauded and held banners aloft.

As the crowds waved flags from dozens of countries, the Popemobile, with the registration number SCV1 for Stato Della Citta del Vaticano (Vatican City State), drove him up an incline to a stage placed in front of the main entrance of St Peter’s Basilica.

As he was driven through the square he was flanked by tight security.

As he began to speak, the crowd broke into chants of “Benedetto, Benedetto”

“I will continue to accompany the Church with my prayers, and I ask each of you to pray for me and for the new Pope”, Benedict told the crowd.

He was given a standing ovation at the end of the address, with Catholic faithful waving banners which said “Grazie Santo Padre!” — Thank You Holy Father.

On Thursday, the pope will meet with cardinals for the final time and then fly by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo, the papal residence south of Rome.

Pope Benedict XVI will greet parishioners there from the palazzo’s balcony, his final public act as pope, before his retirement officially begins at 8pm local time.

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