Pope Benedict bids farewell in last public appearance

A huge crowd of faithful followers, the world's media and tourists gathered in St Peter's Square on Wednesday for the Pope's final public audience before he officially stands down on 28 February.

In the address to about 150,000 people, the Pontiff thanked his cardinals, colleagues and devout Catholics for their support since his shock announcement to become the first pope for 600 years to resign.

He said: "Loving the church means knowing how to make hard and difficult choices with the good of the church, and not oneself, in first place."

Crowds gathered from the early morning in the Vatican, Rome, to bid a final farewell to the frail 85-year-old who arrived in his 'Popemobile' to make the emotional public appearance.