So what do we call the pope now?!

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  • Benedict referred to himself as ‘just a pilgrim’ during his farewell speech in Castel Gandolfo
  • He's the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years
So what do we call the pope now?!

Video: Lightning strikes Vatican

A lightning strikes St Peter's dome at the Vatican on February 11, 2013. Pope Benedict XVI announced today he will resign as leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics on February 28 because his age prevented him from carrying out his duties -- an unprecedented move in the modern history of the Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict XVI made his resignation official at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, and now you may not know what to call him. He’s the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years, after all, so it’s not every day you have to think about these things.

Well, from now on you can refer to him as “pope emeritus,” "pontiff emeritus" or “Benedict XVI” (that would be "the 16th," for those who aren't good with Roman numerals). But we don’t expect to hear much from him after what was likely his last public appearance.

Read more: How a pope is chosen

He gave his final words and a blessing to about 10,000 people who had gathered at Castel Gandolfo, the summer papal residence, to bid him a farewell.

"I am no longer the pope but I am still in the church. I'm just a pilgrim who is starting the last part of his pilgrimage on this earth," he said.

He also sent this final message from the @Pontifex account before all his of tweets were deleted: "Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives. — Benedict XVI"

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