Amidst a tearful crowd, Pope Benedict XVI led his final public mass on Wednesday at St. Peter's Basilica. He thanked those in the audience for their prayers. Breaking with tradition, he will retire this month to a life of prayer in a converted monastery. He will not play a role in the selection of his successor.
At one point, the young Joseph Ratzinger looked like a budding church reformer. By the time he abdicated as pope this week, he had become one of the stoutest defenders of Catholic tradition.