Bells were tolling in Rome for the most holy of resignations.
As the clock struck 5:05 p.m., helicopter blades spun as Pope Benedict XVI flew into history becoming the first pope in 600 years to step down from the papal throne.
An Italian military helicopter carried the Pontiff 15 miles southeast to Castel Gandolfo. The quiet hilltop town has been a summer retreat for popes for nearly four centuries.
A motorcade escorted Pope Benedict through the lush green hillside leading to his temporary residence at the Grand Apostolic Palace. The pope will live there in quiet solitude for the next two months.
Pope Benedict will walk admist perfectly manicured gardens. A cross stands in the tunnel beneath the gardens. The artwork is museum-class, and the fish pond is a perfect spot for philosophical reflection.
As the sun set on Rome, the pope delivered his parting blessing. Then, he disappeared into the shadowy corridors of the palace.
In two months the pope will move to his permanent residence inside Vatican City. That residence is currently under renovation.