A larger than usual crowd packed into St Peter’s Square for Pope Benedict XVI’s second to last Sunday address.
Up to 50,000 people turned out to hear the Pontiff, who will stand down on February, 28.
The crowd in St Peter’s Square chanted “long live the Pope” and waved banners.
Eighty-five year old Benedict spoke in a number of languages including Italian, English and Polish. The only time he made any reference to his decision to resign, he said in Spanish: “I beg you to continue praying for me and for the next Pope.”
Benedict XVI is the first Pontiff to resign in 600 years.
Italian prime minister Mario Monti bid farewell to the Pope in the last meeting the two men will have before the Pope stands down. As a parting gift, Monti gave the Pontiff three coloured pens to represent the Italian flag.