For the first time in more than 600 years, the world awoke to the first full day of the vacancy of the See of Rome, despite the fact that the Pope was still living. Benedict XVI announced his resignation earlier in February, stating that his resignation would become effective at 8 PM local time on February 28th. Full text of Pope’s declaration
He is now known as Pope-emeritus, and will be residing temporarily at Castel Gandolfo, in the palace used by Popes as a summer retreat until renovations of the monastery inside the walls of Vatican City are complete.
World Leaders Reacted
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano praised Benedict's "extraordinary courage" in making the announcement that he will resign because he lacks the strength to continue in the post.
Spain's King Juan Carlos on Monday acknowledged the hard work and dedication shown by Benedict during his pontificate, and he emphasized the "special relationship" the pope has maintained with the Iberian nation, as "reflected in the three memorable visits" he made to the country.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel thanked Benedict XVI for his years of work at the helm of the Catholic Church and wished him the best after his resignation, a "difficult decision" that she said deserved "the greatest respect."
"On behalf of Americans everywhere, Michelle and I wish to extend our appreciation and prayers to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Michelle and I warmly remember our meeting with the Holy Father in 2009, and I have appreciated our work together over these last four years," U.S. President Barack Obama said.
"The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world, and I wish the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's successor," the president said in a statement.
Great Time to Visit Rome & the Vatican
We can't think of a better time than now, during this historic transition in the Vatican, to visit Rome and the Vatican. Whether you are Catholic or not, the Vatican is a beautiful destination within the historic center of the Roman civilization of old. Everywhere you turn is history.
There are several cruises and land tours that begin and/or end in Rome or nearby cities. For those opting for a cruise vacation, we encourage you to extend your stay in Rome so that you can visit its many attractions including the Vatican.
Here are some related articles and photo albums from a recent cruise that included time in Rome.