SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world when he announced that he would do something that no Pope has done in nearly 700 years; he'll resign the papacy, effective on Thursday.
The pontiff made the announcement on February 11, saying that he was resigning due to deteriorating health.
Once his official resignation takes place at 2:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, he will have to remove his papal robes and take off his red shoes.
The pope said he'll take up a life of prayer and live the rest of his days in an apartment at the Vatican. His official title will become His Holiness, Benedict the XVI, Pope Emeritus.
His eventual successor will be selected by a conclave of cardinals. Cardinal Sean O'Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston is in Rome getting ready for the conclave. His name is among the many that have been mentioned as a potential successor.
A new pope needs to be in place by March 17 in order for the church to have a leader for Holy Week; the most important time of year in the Catholic calendar.
To honor the pope, Springfield Bishop Timothy McDonnell will hold a special Mass at around noon to give thanks for the papacy of Benedict XVI.