Giant crowd expected for Benedict's final appearance as pontiff
Published Tuesday, February 26, 2013 8:02AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 26, 2013 9:51PM EST
All eyes will be on the Pope Wednesday, when he makes his final public appearance as pontiff.
The papal General Audience is held on Wednesdays, when the Pope is in Rome, to give pilgrims and visitors the chance to see the head of the Catholic Church and receive a blessing.
While it's usually held inside a hall in the Vatican, Benedict will make his address from a window overlooking St. Peter's Square instead.
The change has been made to accommodate the massive crowds expected to flock to the Vatican for the historic event. The Vatican says 50,000 tickets have already been requested for the occasion.
Also breaking from tradition, the Pope will be driven around St. Peter's Square in the popemobile ahead of the audience, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. local time.
"The truth is these words that he speaks tomorrow will be the last ones in a pubic nature," CTV's Martin Seemungal told Canada AM on Tuesday.
Benedict is expected to become the first pope to resign in six centuries when he makes his retirement official Thursday night.
His final public prayer ceremony was Sunday, in a blessing that drew tens of thousands of people who listened to the Pope reassure them he wasn’t "abandoning" the church.
Benedict told the crowd that God is calling him to dedicate himself "even more to prayer and meditation," which he will do in a monastery being renovated for him on the grounds behind Vatican City's ancient walls.
"But this doesn’t mean abandoning the church," he said. "On the contrary, if God asks me, this is because I can continue to serve it (the church) with the same dedication and the same love which I have tried to do so until now, but in a way more suitable to my age and to my strength."
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