Pope Celebrates Last Public Mass As Pontiff

VATICAN CITY (February 13, 2013)--Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his last public Mass as pontiff as he presided over Ash Wednesday services inside the packed St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Looking tired, Benedict, 85, 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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