Pope celebrates last public Mass as pontiff

Pope celebrates last public Mass as pontiff

Credit: VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the mass for Ash Wednesday, opening Lent on February 13, 2013 at St Peter's basilica at the Vatican.

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by NICOLE WINFIELD / Associated Press

KREM.com

Posted on February 13, 2013 at 10:49 AM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 13 at 10:49 AM

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI is celebrating his last public Mass as pontiff, presiding over Ash Wednesday services inside the packed St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Looking tired, the 85-year-old Benedict was wheeled down the central aisle as a choir sang, preceded by dozens of cardinals.

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, the most solemn season in the church's liturgical calendar that ends with Holy Week and Easter Sunday.

Wearing heavy purple vestments, Benedict referred to his pending Feb. 28 resignation in his homily, asking for the prayers of the faithful.

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