02/13/2013 01:01 pm ET Updated Feb 13, 2013

Pope Celebrates Ash Wednesday 2013 At St. Peters Basilica, Last Public Mass (PHOTOS) (VIDEO)

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Ash Wednesday at the Vatican with his final public mass. The location of the observance was changed to St. Peter's Basilica in anticipation of the crowds which formed in anticipation of the mass. The poignant service comes just days after Pope Benedict announced his resignation.

As Philip Pullella for Reuters reports:

"A capacity crowd in St Peter's Basilica gave Pope Benedict a thunderous standing ovation on Wednesday night at an emotional last public Mass before his resignation at the end of the month. "Thank you. Now, let's return to prayer," the 85-year-old pontiff said, bringing an end to several minutes of applause that clearly moved him. In an unusual gesture, bishops took off their mitres in a sign of respect and a few of them wept.

Click here for full coverage of Pope Benedict's resignation.



Pope Celebrates Ash Wednesday Mass

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