On this day, February 13th, one year ago – which was Ash Wednesday – Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his final public Mass. As I mentioned in my previous retrospective post, I was fortunate to be among the clergy who distributed ashes during that Mass.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who at that time was the Vatican’s Secretary of State and had been a very close and loyal collaborator with Pope Benedict over the years, read a statement of farewell on behalf of all gathered, to thank the Holy Father.
Here is an excerpt – read the whole thing here.
The Eucharist is thanksgiving to God. We want to thank the Lord this evening for the journey the whole Church has made under your guidance, Your Holiness. And from the depths of our hearts we want to say to you with deep affection, feeling and admiration: thank you for giving us the shining example of a simple and humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard, a worker, however, who was able at every moment to do what is most important: to bring God to men and women and to bring men and women to God. Many thanks!
Following which, the entire – packed – Basilica broke out in extended applause.
Here is a video of the conclusion of the Mass. For the first three minutes, Cardinal Bertone delivers his words of thanks; if you fast-forward to the 3:00 mark you will get it right before the applause begins. After over two and a half minutes of applause, the Holy Father said, “Thank you! Let us continue to pray.” and then he gave the final blessing.