Tens of thousands packed the square outside Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on Wednesday to say goodbye to Pope Benedict XVI.
Benedict arrived by car, greeting the cheering crowd of faithful Catholics as he made his way to the stage, to hold his final general audience address. Many in the crowd waved signs and banners with a message of thanks.
The Pope spoke about the challenges he faced as head of the Catholic Church for nearly eight years.
"Loving the Church also means to have the courage to make difficult and arduous choices, having always in front of us the good of the Church and not ourselves," Benedict said.
Benedict also asked Catholics around the world to pray for his successor.
"Whoever takes the Ministry of Saint Peter upon himself does not have any privacy, he belongs totally and always to everyone and to the whole Church," Benedict said. "The private dimension is completely taken away from his life."
A number of Cardinals were in attendance for the farewell address -- many arriving from all over earlier in the day.
The College of Cardinals will be busy with the task of picking the new Pope after Benedict steps down Thursday evening.