As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI returned Thursday to the Vatican, he presented the Catholic Church with the unprecedented situation of two popes living a short distance from St Peter's Square.
Benedict, now 86, returned to the compound by helicopter, just as he left on his resignation on Feb. 28, when he moved to Castel Gandolfo, a hilltop town south of Rome where popes have summered for centuries.
Wearing the white papal cassock, he landed at the Vatican helipad and was then driven to his new home, the remodeled Mater Ecclesiae monastery on the edge of the Vatican gardens.
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"Pope Francis was there to welcome him with brotherly cordiality," the Vatican said in a statement.
"Benedict XVI is happy to be back in the Vatican, where he will dedicate himself to the service of the church with prayer above all," the Vatican remarked.
Ahead of his resignation, Benedict stressed that he would keep a low profile by living his final years "hidden from the world" and "withdrawn into prayer." Most of all, he promised "unconditional reverence and obedience" to his successor. The former pope repeated his intentions on March 23 on the historic meeting with Pope Francis at Castel Gandolfo.