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Gallery: Pope bids farewell to pilgrims

World

Tens of thousands of pilgrims cheered and whooped on St Peter's Square as Pope Benedict XVI gave his final general audience before resigning.

Nuns, priests and whole families had flocked to the Vatican to get a front-row view of the pope, waving flags and holding up banners expressing their love for the 85-year-old Benedict. - AFP

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Pope Benedict XVI is driven through the crowd as he arrives for his last general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013. Tens of thousands of people toting banners saying "Thank you!" jammed St. Peter's Square on Wednesday to bid farewell to Pope Benedict XVI at his final general audience, the appointment he kept each week to teach the world about the Catholic faith. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)Pope Benedict XVI waves from his Popemobile as he rides through a packed Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican during his last general audience, February 27, 2013. The weekly event which would normally be held in a vast auditorium in winter, but has been moved outdoors to St. Peter's Square so more people can attend. The pope has two days left before he takes the historic step of becoming the first pontiff in some six centuries to step down instead of ruling for life.         REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini (VATICAN  - Tags: RELIGION)Pope Benedict XVI greets pilgrims in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013. Pope Benedict XVI greeted the Catholic masses in St. Peter's Square Wednesday for the last time before retiring, making several rounds of the square as crowds cheered wildly and stopping to kiss a half-dozen children brought up to him by his secretary. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)Pope Benedict XVI appears on a giant screen in a packed Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican during his last general audience, February 27, 2013. The weekly event which would normally be held in a vast auditorium in winter, but has been moved outdoors to St. Peter's Square so more people can attend. The pope has two days left before he takes the historic step of becoming the first pontiff in some six centuries to step down instead of ruling for life.         REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini (VATICAN  - Tags: RELIGION)A general view of a packed Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican where Pope Benedict XVI holds his last general audience, February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano RellandiniPope Benedict XVI holds his last general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican February 27, 2013. The pope has two days left before he takes the historic step of becoming the first pontiff in some six centuries to step down instead of ruling for life. REUTERS/Alessandro BianchiThe crowd listens to Pope Benedict XVI in St Peter's Square during his last general audience at the Vatican February 27, 2013. The weekly event which would normally be held in a vast auditorium in winter, but has been moved outdoors to St. Peter's Square so more people can attend. REUTERS/Max RossiPeople crowd St. Peter's Square where Pope Benedict XVI is celebrating his last general audience, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013.  Benedict XVI has recalled moments of "joy and light" during his papacy but also times of great difficulty in an emotional, final general audience in St. Peter's Square before retiring. Benedict thanked his cardinals, colleagues and ordinary faithful for their support and for respecting his decision to become the first pope in 600 years to resign. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)A sign reading "Thank you" in Italian is held in St Peter's Square as Pope Benedict XVI holds his last general audience at the Vatican February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Max RossiPope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful after holding his last general audience at the Vatican February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Max RossiPope Benedict XVI. File photo: ReutersPope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful after arriving in St Peter's Square to hold his last general audience at the Vatican February 27, 2013. The pope has two days left before he takes the historic step of becoming the first pontiff in some six centuries to step down instead of ruling for life. REUTERS/Max RossiPope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful as he arrives in St Peter's Square to hold his last general audience at the Vatican February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

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