Pope Benedict XVI has officially resigned, saying that he now “will simply be a pilgrim” starting his last journey on earth, the BBC reports.
The pontiff, aged 86, was earlier flown by helicopter from the Vatican to his retreat at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome.
His deputy, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, is now in charge of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics until a new pope is elected next month.
Benedict vowed “unconditional obedience and reverence” to his successor.
He is the first pontiff in 600 years to step down, citing his frail health.