.- On Thursday, Feb. 28, church bells in Rome and Albano rang out during the helicopter flight that took Pope Benedict XVI from the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo on the day of his resignation.
The Pope departed the Vatican at 5 p.m. local time to travel to Albano, where the papal summer residence is located and where he was welcomed by the faithful. Numerous Catholic communities organized a pilgrimage to Castel Gandolfo to begin at 4 p.m. local time.
Officials of the Papal Household told Vatican Radio in advance that the Holy Father would greet the faithful and bid farewell from the balcony of the Papal Residence.
Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano told Vatican Radio that it is a “truly a great privilege” for his diocese to welcome the Pope during his transition to retirement.
Benedict XVI will officially resign from the papacy at 8 p.m. Rome time. The faithful in Albano plan to surround the papal residence at that moment in silence and prayer as an expression of love and support.
Bsihop Semeraro also explained that prior to and after the Pope’s arrival at Castel Gandolfo, all parishes in the region will hold days of prayer for Benedict XVI in thanksgiving for his presence and for his magisterium.
“We will pray for the Pope, we will thank the Lord for the gift of his presence, for the gift of his word, for the gift of his service,” he added.
A date has not yet been set for Benedict XVI’s move from Castel Gandolfo to his permanent residence at a former monastery on the Vatican grounds.