LAST TASKS

Associated Press
Two nuns peer out from a window in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013. Pope Benedict XVI is preparing for his final general audience, the weekly appointment he kept with the faithful and tourists to teach them about the Catholic faith. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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Two nuns peer out from a window in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013. Pope …

The big speeches are done. It's almost time to go.

In just a few minutes, Pope Benedict XVI meets with his cardinals this morning on the day he heads into retirement. No major speech is expected during his morning farewell with his closest advisers, just a simple greeting to each one inside the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace.

Shortly before 5 p.m. local time, Benedict will leave the palace for the last time as pope, head to the helipad on the top of the hill in the Vatican gardens and fly to the papal retreat south of Rome. And there, at 8 p.m. — the exact moment Benedict's resignation goes into effect — the doors of the palazzo will close and the Swiss Guards in attendance will go off duty, their service protecting the pope now finished.

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"Pope Live" follows the events of the final day of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy as seen by journalists from The Associated Press around the world. It will be updated throughout the day with breaking news and other items of interest. Follow AP reporters on Twitter where available.

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