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Pope Benedict XVI bids farewell to public life

Pope Benedict XVI greeted the faithful for the last time as pope, telling well-wishers gathered at the Vatican's vacation retreat that he is beginning the final stage of his life as a 'simple pilgrim,' hours before he became the first pontiff in 600 years to resign.

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The helicopter taking Pope Benedict XVI to Castel Gandolfo leaves the Vatican in Rome, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013. Shortly before 5 p.m. on Thursday, Pope Benedict left the Apostolic palace inside the Vatican for the last time as pontiff, headed to the helipad at the top of the hill in the Vatican gardens and flew to the papal retreat at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome. There, at 8 p.m. sharp, Benedict will become the first pontiff in 600 years to resign. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Photo by Gregorio Borgia
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