(CBS News) The retired pope -- now in residence at Castel Gandolfo -- says he is now a simple "pilgrim."
Right now, there is no pope. Benedict, now known as Pope Emeritus, a title he selected himself, is at the papal summer retreat in Castel Gandolfo, about 15 miles south of Rome.
Getting there was a remarkable, unprecedented journey in so many ways.
On Thursday, the world saw his last steps as pope in the Vatican. And his last steps in the papal red slippers -- just one of the adornments of office Benedict XVI has given up.
It was a well-orchestrated departure, much like that of an outgoing president leaving the White House. A farewell to officials and staff, and applause from them for the man making history by retiring from office instead of dying in it.
Sometime later this year he plans to return to the Vatican grounds to live out his days in an apartment being refurbished for him within a monastery on the Vatican grounds. But for now, it was a short drive to a waiting helicopter and a farewell to the senior officials who had served him -- but not served him well, according to many observers.
The Vatican which Benedict has left behind is wallowing in the wake of the priestly child abuse scandal, and languishing in an administrative mess -- problems the new pope will find waiting for him, whenever he is chosen.
The flight was a spectacular study in contrasts -- the frail, retiring leader of an ancient institution, flying over the Eternal City in a modern Italian military aircraft. The Vatican doesn't have it's own air force, although it claims access to the heavens in other ways. Door-to-door air service is another perk Benedict now must learn to do without.
Once at the Castel Gandolfo retreat, where he's due to stay for the next months, Benedict appeared on a balcony overlooking a square to deliver his final goodbye.
Then, at 8:00 p.m. local time, the ceremonial Swiss Guard protection unit left. Normal Vatican police officers will guard the ex-pope from now on.
Gone too are the other trappings of office The symbolic papal "fisherman's ring" has been smashed, and the red papal cape he wore for almost eight years has been returned -- he'll now wear only white.
He is now an entirely unique being; a living ex-pope. The job description? To not be seen or heard.
Watch Mark Phillips' full report in the video above.