Vatican City (AP) - Benedict XVI left the Vatican Thursday morning for the final time as pontiff.
He left the palace by helicopter and is heading to the papal retreat.
Three hours later, Benedict will become the first pontiff in 600 years to resign.
In an unexpected speech to cardinals Thursday, the pope promised "unconditional reverence and obedience" to his successor.
Benedict urged them to work in unity so that the College of Cardinals is "like an orchestra" where "agreement and harmony" can be reached.
Benedict announced two weeks ago that he would step down from his current position due to failing strength and health issues.
The conclave of cardinals will begin meeting Monday to decide on a new pope.
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