Tens of thousands of people have flooded St Peter's Square to bid farewell to Pope Benedict XVI at his final general audience, the weekly appointment he kept to teach the world about the Catholic faith.
Hours before Benedict was to arrive, St Peter's was overflowing and pilgrims and
curiosity-seekers were picking spots along the main boulevard nearby to watch the event on giant TV screens. Some 50,000 tickets were requested for Benedict's final Wednesday master class, but Italian media estimated the number of people actually attending could be double that.
With chants of "Benedetto" erupting every so often, the mood was far more buoyant than during Benedict's final Sunday blessing and recalled the jubilant turnouts that often accompanied Benedict at World Youth Days and events involving Pope John Paul II.