Banner on Vatican wall says thanks to departing pope
Faithful crowd into Castel Gandolfo to welcome Benedict28 February, 17:54
In several languages, admirers posted such messages as "thank you" and "God bless you" as the pope departed via 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.
As his helicopter passed over Rome's Piazza del Campidoglio, or Capitol Hill, bells in the historic Senatorial palazzo chimed a greeting amid applause from spectators.
More banners were waved, thanking Benedict and promising "you'll be with us always".
Awaiting him Castel Gandolfo, just south of Rome, a large welcoming party interrupted the praying of the Rosary and began to peal the bells welcoming Benedict.
The crowd, which spilled out of the main square into the side streets, began to applaud for the arriving pope.