"On 28th April 2009 Pope Benedict XVI visited the town of L’Aquila in Italy, which had been struck by a severe earthquake causing the loss of many lives. When he visited the parish church he prayed at the glass casket with the body of Pope Saint Celestine V, which had miraculously escaped destruction. Celestine was the last pope to abdicate, resigning on 13th December 1294.
On that day in 2009 Pope Benedict made a very distinctive gesture. He left on Celestine’s casket the long pallium with which he had been invested in 2005. Many at the time, including myself, thought this might be an indication that he too might abdicate in due course when he no longer felt able to carry out his papal office. And that is indeed what has happened!"
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