The Ash Wednesday Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, where Pope Benedict XVI said he was resigning for the good of the church, is the first of events lined up for his last days as the Pontiff, details of final-days’ schedule released by the Vatican has shown.
In Pope Benedict’s last days as Supreme Pontiff, three politicians will have the chance to meet with him. Pope Benedict will receive the President of Romania on February 15, while Guatemala’s President, and the Italian Senator, Mario Monti, will be granted audiences on February 16.
Before the Pope meets the politicians, he has series of meetings with priests of Rome, Lenten spiritual exercises, and audiences with cardinals.
On Thursday, February 14, Pope Benedict will meet in Paul VI Hall with the clergy of the Diocese of Rome and reflect on the Second Vatican Council.
Two groups of bishops from Italy – one from Liguria and the other from Lombardi – will have a chance to talk with Pope Benedict as part of their “ad limina” visit that happens every five years. Their audiences will be on the 15th and 16th, respectively.
The Holy Father will participate in a week of spiritual exercises, which will begin on February 17 at 6 p.m. This year the reflections for the retreat will be offered by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
The spiritual exercises will end on February 23 and the Pope will deliver a short speech at that time.
As he heads into his final days as Pope, Benedict XVI will offer his final Sunday Angelus reflection on February 24.
On Monday, February 25, he will grant private hearings to some cardinals.
Pope Benedict’s final public appearance will be a general audience on February 27 at St. Peter’s Square where a large number of faithfuls are expected.
On his last day as pontiff, Pope Benedict will be greeted by cardinals at 11:00 a.m. and then at 5:00 p.m. he will move to Castel Gandolfo.
At 8:00 p.m. on February. 28 the See of Peter will officially become vacant. Preparations for the conclave of cardinals to elect his successor will begin on March 1.