09:47 Thursday 28 February 2013

What happens when the Pope steps down?

Benedict XVI will retire as Pontiff this evening

This is the first Pope to have retired since Medieval times, so unsurprisingly the rules about what happens to a former pope have been somewhat lost in the mists of time.

The Vatican, however, has revealed all. So what happens on the Pope retires this evening?

Costume change

The name change will come immediately.

Benedict He will now be called Pope emeritus or Pontiff emeritus. He will, however, still get to be called His Holiness.

This, a Vatican spokesman revealed, was decided in consultation with Pope Benedict and his advisers.

The Pope currently cuts a dash in his white robe, red shoes and red cape. He will continue to wear the white robe, but sadly he loses the right to wear a cape.

He will also be denied the right to continue wearing the papal red shoes.

He will lose his Fisherman's Ring, which will be destroyed along with the lead seal of the pontificate.

New life

Aside from that, he'll lose the right to the Swiss Guard. He'll still keep a security detail, but that will fall to the far-less-flamboyantly-dressed Vatican Gendamerie.

He does, however, get to stay in a monastery in Vatican City - which may lead to some awkward moments in future if he bumps into his near neighbour, the new Pope.

Sadly he has also taken his final ride in the Pope-mobile before he retires to a life of contemplation and prayer.

Speaking yesterday, he asked people to pray for him and his successor. 

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9:47 28 Feb 2013
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