(WUSA9/ AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI greeted the faithful for the last time as pope from the balcony of the Vatican's vacation retreat on Thursday.
"I am simply a pilgrim who is starting the last part of his journey," Pope Benedict XVI told well-wishers on the balcony at Castel Gandolfo.
He ended his address with "Thank you, goodnight!"
Benedict arrived at Castel Gandolfo after an emotional sendoff from the Vatican, where his closest aide wept by his side as he bade farewell to Vatican officials gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, Swiss Guards standing by at attention.
Bells tolled as he left the Vatican by helicopter and did a fly-by around St. Peter's Square. They tolled anew as he arrived in Castel Gandolfo, where the central piazza was jammed with people eager to capture the historic moment.
Benedict is the first pontiff in 600 years to resign.