Dear friends, I'm happy to be with you, surrounded by the beauty of creation and your well-wishes which do me such good.
Thank you for your friendship, and your affection. You know this day is different for me than the preceding ones: I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8 o'clock this evening and then no more.I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this Earth.
But I would still ... thank you ... I would still with my heart, with my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, and with all my inner strength, like to work for the common good and the good of the Church and of humanity.
I feel very supported by your sympathy.
Let us go forward with the Lord for the good of the Church and the world. Thank you, I now wholeheartedly impart my blessing. Blessed be God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Good night! Thank you all!
– Pope Benedict XVI addressing the crowds at Castel Gandolfo.
Swiss Guards prepare for Pope Benedict's departure
In their plumed helmets and striped uniforms, the Swiss Guards are one of the most recognisable symbols of The Vatican.
When they walk off duty from the pontiff's summer retreat, it will be one of the few visible signs that Benedict XVI is no longer Pope.
"We appreciate about this Pope that he was very humble," Swiss Guard Corporal Urs Breitenmoser told the Associated Press. "He talks to the people, he took his time to talk with everybody and he had always a great memory".
At 7pm tonight, the doors of the residence at Castel Gandolfo will close and the Swiss Guards will leave.
"We are coming back to The Vatican, and we continue to survey the entrances of Vatican City and the Pope's palace, even if he's not there and then we are waiting for the arrival of the Cardinals," Breitenmoser added.