Vatican City

Tears and cheers for pope as leaves Vatican

Benedict begins retirement in Castel Gandolfo

Tears and cheers for pope as leaves Vatican

Vatican City, February 28 - Tears and farewell applause from Vatican staff sent Pope Benedict XVI on his way into retirement Thursday. Employees of the Vatican gathered in the courtyard of San Damaso and loudly applauded Benedict as he boarded the helicopter to begin his retirement at the papal summer retreat in Castel Gandolfo. The pope, 85, was to officially begin his retirement Thursday at 20:00 local time. Tears were spotted on many faces of his staff, including that of photogenic Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, who has been the pope's personal secretary. Gaenswein recently appeared on the cover of the Italian version of Vanity Fair magazine as the first personal secretary and head of the Papal Household, to become an archbishop. Awaiting Benedict in Castel Gandolfo, just south of Rome, a large welcoming party interrupted the praying of the Rosary and began to peal the bells welcoming Benedict.

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