The Diocese of Des Moines
The last days of a pontificate
February 26, 2013
Written By: Kyle Lechtenberg

The past two weeks since Pope Benedict XVI's announcement that he would resign have been filled with excitement, gratitude for the pope's ministry, and no shortage of questions. We've been working on a papal transition web page with some of the info, and here are a few more thoughts:


  1. What will Benedict XVI be called after he resigns? His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope-emeritus (more info)

  2. What will he wear? He will retain the white cassock but will give up the shoes and ring. (more info)

  3. What about the pope's ring? It will be destroyed, according to tradition.  (more info)

  4. Where will he live? He will go to the papal summer residence, Castel Gandolfo, for a couple of months. Then, he will retire to a monastery within the walls of the Vatican City. (more info)

  5. How will his resignation be marked? Some places will ring bells--this is not a toll of mourning but more like a festive peal or ringing in gratitude for the pope's ministry. Special Masses may also be offered for Pope Benedict XVI but should conclude before 8:00 p.m. Rome time (1:00 p.m. Central Standard Time) on Thursday, February 28. 

  6. How will the prayer of the Church change after he resigns? We will enter a period called the sede vacante ("vacant see") or the interregnum ("between reigns"). It will begin after 8:00 p.m. Rome time and last until the new pope accepts his election by the Cardinal electors. Regarding the prayers, check the USCCB resources (see pages 12 and following). Special Masses may again be offered (Bishop Pates will preside at the 12:10 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral on March 6, for the election of a pope.). If you're praying on your own or at home with a group, check out the prayers we have on our Papal Transition web page. In the Eucharistic Prayers, the clause for the pope is simply omitted until a new pope is elected. 

  7. What happens when a new pope is elected? Perhaps again the bells in the churches should ring! When he is elected, there is a process which he and the cardinals follow, wherein he accepts the election, announces his name, and then is introduced to the world. follows. Then, some days later, he will be installed in a liturgy in St. Peter's Square, where he will receive the pallium and the ring.  Click here to read Pope Benedict XVI's homily from that Mass on 24 April 2005. Save to


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