Sede Vacante.

As of 1:00pm Central Standard Time, the See (seat) of the Diocese of Rome is vacant, and we have no Pope.

Benedict XVI, who will now be known as Supreme Pontiff Emeritus, departed the city of Rome this morning via helicopter for the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo, about 30 kilometers southeast of Vatican City.

AP Photo/Michael Sohn

AP Photo/Michael Sohn

Once he arrived at the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo, he greeted the lay faithful with a few words, and said, “I am simply a pilgrim starting the final stage of his pilgrimage on this earth.  But I would like yet again, with my heart, my love, my prayers, my reflection, with all of my interior strength, to work for the common good and the good of the Church and of humanity . . . let us go forward together with the Lord for the good of the Church and of the world.  I impart to you now my blessing with all of my heart.”

And then, at 8:00pm in Castel Gandolfo, in front of the papal villa, the Swiss Guard departed from their post and ceremonially gave the duty of protecting the pope to the Vatican police, and the Diocese of Rome became sede vacante, a “vacant see (seat)”.  You can watch this changing of the guard in this video (the event happens around minute 8:45 and continues for a few minutes after that).

Perhaps you could offer a prayer in thanksgiving for the holy and beautiful eight-year reign of Benedict XVI, pope emeritus, sometime today?

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