Pope Benedict XVI: moments of 'joy and light' from an eight-year term

Pope Benedict XVI becomes the first pontiff to stand down in 600 years on Thursday. The 85-year-old is carrying out his final engagements as head of the Roman Catholic church before flying in a helicopter to his summer residence tucked away in the Italian hills.

The Pope, who will be known as "emeritus pope" in his retirement and will continue to wear a white cassock, will leave the Vatican at 5pm and travel 15 miles south-east of Rome to the idyllic lake retreat of Castel Gandolfo.

Following greetings of local residents and pilgrims, he will make his final appearance as pope on the balcony of the apostolic palace and officially abdicate at 8pm.

In his final public address in St Peter's Square on Wednesday, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said: "The Lord gave us days of sun and of light breeze, days in which the fishing was good. There were also moments when there were stormy waters and headwinds". 

As Benedict prepares to leave the world's spotlight for a retirement of tranquillity and prayer, we look at the moments of 'joy and light' that he recalled in his emotional speech, and that span his eight-year papal term...

German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is elected to be the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church in April, 2005. He takes the name Pope Benedict XVI and makes his first papal address to the Catholic world in St Peter's Square in December 

Benedict becomes only the second Pope in 2,000 years to visit a mosque when he prays, facing Mecca, along with the Grand Mufti at the famous Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, 2006 

The Vatican begins installing approximately 2,500 solar panels on the roof of the Paul VI auditorium near St Peter's Basilica, where the Pope holds general audiences. This will convert sunlight into 300 megawatts of electricity a year and makes Pope Benedict the first eco-friendly papacy.

"At a time of growing sensibility towards the problems of the environment, the Vatican has shown that it is taking action," the Vatican said. The Vatican won the 2008 Euro Solar Prize for the project 

On a state visit to London, Pope Benedict XVI, sits down with British Prime Minister David Cameron in September 2010 

During the four day visit Pope Benedict will celebrate mass, conduct a prayer vigil as well as beatify Cardinal Newman at an open air mass in Cofton Park. His Holiness has met The Queen in Scotland as well as political and religious representatives. Here, former and current politicians and Prime Ministers greet the Popes arrival. From left to right, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, Cherie Blair, Norma Major, John Major, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, William Hague and Nick Clegg 

The Pope draws 1.5 million young people to Madrid for World Youth Day in 2011. Pilgrims wave flags during the World Youth Day closing ceremony on August 21, 2011 in Madrid, Spain. Initiated by Pope John Paul II in 1985, World Youth Day is a celebration of the Catholic faith held every three years in a different country; this time in Madrid, with Pope Benedict XVI in attendance 

Benedict will temporarily retire in his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, in the hills just 15 miles south-east of Rome. There, he will accompanied by his private secretary Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who has been by his side throughout his term, and will remain so during his retirement 

Pilgrims and clergy members hold a candle-lit vigil in Saint Peter's Square, facing Pope Benedict XVI's private apartment, after his final public address on Wednesday 27 February Pope Benedict XVI has been the leader of the Catholic Church for eight years and is the first Pope to retire for 600 years.

He cites ailing health as his reason for retirement and will see out his remaining days "hidden to the world" and living "a life dedicated to prayer" 


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