Pope Benedict received cardinals for a farewell ceremony on Thursday 28th February, warmly embracing Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who passed on best wishes on behalf of those gathered.
“Among you there is also the future pope to whom I promise my unconditional obedience and reverence,” the pontiff told those assembled.
“The Church is a living being,” he added, but it “also remains always the same”.
He later said goodbye to his staff before being taken to a helipad for the 15-minute flight to Castel Gandolfo.
The residence, 15 miles (24km) south-east of the Italian capital, is the traditional summer home of the popes.
At 19:00 GMT, Benedict ceased being a pope, a moment which will be marked symbolically when the Swiss Guards at the gate of Castel Gandolfo march off for their return to the Vatican.
The German pontiff, who was born Joseph Ratzinger, will continue to be known as Benedict XVI, with the new title of “pope emeritus”.