The Holy See press office revealed today that Pope Benedict XVI will retain his papal name but will be called Pope Emeritus.
“He will still be called His Holiness Benedict XVI,” said the press office director, Father Federico Lombardi.
“But he will also be called Pope Emeritus or Roman Pontiff Emeritus,” he added at the Feb. 26 press meeting.
Pope Benedict is currently receiving hundreds of letters from authorities from around the world bidding him farewell.
“He has put his personal secretary and head of the pontifical household, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, in charge of reading them and passing their messages to the Pope,” said Fr. Lombardi.
There will also be a highly symbolic moment to signal the end of the Pope’s ministry.
The Swiss Guards will be standing at the gates of Castel Gandolfo and at 8:00 p.m. they will leave their stations.
“They symbolically protect the Pope, so they will no longer be necessary. But don’t worry because there will still be Vatican police protecting the Vatican gardens and its surroundings,” Fr. Lombardi explained.
Fifty thousand tickets have been given out for Pope Benedict’s last general audience tomorrow, but Vatican officials are expecting more people.
Fr. Lombardi said the general audience will follow its usual procedure and will have the pontiff travel around St. Peter’s Square in his popemobile.
But this time there will be no “bacce mano,” where select guests are able to kiss the Pope’s ring after the audience, because of the large amount of people expected.
Vatican officials are expecting the College of Cardinals to hold their first meeting, which could reveal the conclave date, early next week.