The Pope, who will be known as "emeritus pope" in his retirement and will continue to wear a white cassock, will leave the Vatican at 5pm and travel 15 miles south-east of Rome to the idyllic lake retreat of Castel Gandolfo.
Following greetings of local residents and pilgrims, he will make his final appearance as pope on the balcony of the apostolic palace and officially abdicate at 8pm.
In his final public address in St Peter's Square on Wednesday, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said: "The Lord gave us days of sun and of light breeze, days in which the fishing was good. There were also moments when there were stormy waters and headwinds".
As Benedict prepares to leave the world's spotlight for a retirement of tranquillity and prayer, we look at the moments of 'joy and light' that he recalled in his emotional speech, and that span his eight-year papal term...