RELIGION
02/28/2013 12:59 pm ET

#ThanksPontifex: Catholics Express Gratitude For Pope Benedict XVI

Catholic faithful and papal admirers around the world expressed their gratitude for Pope Benedict XVI on his final day as Supreme Pontiff.

Check out a round-up of the most grateful tweets and see a liveblog for the latest updates below:

#ThanksPontifex

RELATED ON HUFFPOST:

02/28/2013 4:16 PM EST

The Pope's Last Flight: A Media Masterpiece

Dario Morelli, expert on religion and media law, writes in his blog post:

A precise, wise and great director orchestrated the video of Benedict XVI's flight toward oblivion. The inexorable trajectory of the helicopter in front of the background of a majestic and exhausted city, the hypnotic hum of the blades as the only noise, accompanied by the bells of Rome, which tolled the newly Vacant Seat -- for the first time, joyfully.

The setting and the details transformed the great historical event in a great media event, which was absolutely not a given.

Continue reading here.

02/28/2013 4:14 PM EST

.@Pontifex Tweets Deleted

Pope Benedict XVI is pope no more. The Vatican wasted no time reflecting that on his official Twitter account.

All of his tweets were deleted on the social network (though an archive preserves them here), his picture has been replaced with the papal seal, and the account's name is now "Sede Vacante." That last phrase is Latin for "the seat being vacant," as journalist Gio Benitez pointed out.

Continue reading here.

02/28/2013 3:58 PM EST

@ CardinalSean :

Today I shared w/ Pope Benedict XVI a Bavarian greeting & also that the people of Boston thanked him for his ministry & are praying for him.

02/28/2013 3:30 PM EST

Sealing Papal Apartments

02/28/2013 3:03 PM EST

Non Habemus Papam

The apartment in which Benedict XVI lived for eight years has been sealed by the state secretary cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. The seal is made of a strong adhesive band with the stamp of the vacant seat, reports HuffPost Italy.

02/28/2013 2:59 PM EST

The Swiss Guards Leave Benedict XVI

A few minutes after 8pm, the Swiss Guards went off-duty in front of the gates of Castel Gandolfo. The Swiss Guards, who have been protecting the Pope since 1506, are not responsible for the the pope emeritus' security. During the two months he will spend in Castel Gandolfo, the Vatican policemen will be in charge of him, reports HuffPost Italy.

02/28/2013 2:57 PM EST

What Happens to the Swiss Guard When the Pope Resigns?

The AP explains:

Being a Swiss Guard is not all feathered helmets and puffy striped uniforms.

To even apply, you must be Catholic, male, Swiss and between 19 and 30 years of age. You need to sign up for a minimum two-year hitch and must complete your mandatory military service back at home.

Swiss Guards take an oath to protect the present pope and whoever follows him as the latest successor to the first pontiff, Peter.

Tonight, when Pope Benedict XVI retires at 8 p.m., the Swiss Guards will go inside the papal palace at Castel Gandolfo and go off duty. They won't be staying, however — after they get out of their dress uniforms they will be driven back to Rome.

Benedict will then be guarded by Vatican security personnel.

02/28/2013 1:25 PM EST

Nine Litter Known Facts About Pope Benedict

Yes he was the leader of 1.1 billion Catholics, but did you know Pope Emeritus Benedict could fly a helicopter? Here are nine little known facts about the Pope Emeritus that may give us some clues on how he will pass the time in retirement, when he is not praying of course.

02/28/2013 1:20 PM EST

@ JamesMartinSJ :

Farewell Holy Father! Thank you for your many years of service to God and to God's people. May your retirement be filled with many graces.

02/28/2013 12:47 PM EST

The Papacy Ends Quietly, In A New Way

For the first time in history, the pontificate of Benedict XVI ends "quietly, without the death of the bishop of Rome, without the upheavals that lead to papal resignation in the past." This is how Gian Maria Vian, director of L'Osservatore Romano, defines this day in his editorial.

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