Transcript for This day in history: Feb. 28, 2013
For the first time in 600 years the seat of saint Peter is vacant because a living Pope. Has returned to his quiet life taking off the red shoes and the papal robes. Benedict the sixteenth also took off that papal ring. You see on his finger and tonight it has been scratched with an X cross the face so no one else can ever use his papal seal. And then he turned. And walked in back into his new life his academic life with his book. His piano his beloved caps a way to. Rebels told to mark his final days. They are the same bells that filled the air and his first day of Pope eight years ago. So now it is time for the great debate about a new Pope and a new day for the ancient church and ABC's George Stephanopoulos. Leads us off in Saint Peter's Square tonight George. Diane every detail was tightly scripted highly conscious of that history he was making. Benedict sent a message with every step and tonight his robes have been traded in. His guards have stood down. The holy leader who hours ago led more than a billion faithful has now become one of them. One by one they said goodbye. Benedict smiling reminding the cardinals. Among dew is the future Pope. Then it was time to go. Benedict making the long walk through the vaulted Vatican halts. Cheers. Waves. Followed by a long winding ride. The signs of gutsy everywhere. The bells of saint Peter's basilica ringing out as he arrived at the heliport. Then the defender of ancient tradition boarding a helicopter. Rising into a brilliant blue sky. Rounding saint Peter's and the coliseum. Within minutes the arrival at Castel Gandolfo. The vacation retreat of popes. Crowds greeted him outside his new temporary home and then one last time as Pope. Benedict stood on a balcony he spoke nonchalant view saying I am no longer the pontiff at the Catholic Church in. I'm simply a pilgrim. Beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this or. Confident. If he's really disputed does sound. Basketball and I'm not then. After blessing the faithful he disappeared. And hours later at 8 PM local time. The Swiss guards leaving their post. He keeps close. One chapter ends in new one begins. Benedict told the cardinals today that he will be close to them in prayer as they choose his replacement. And Diane tonight this 2000 year old church steeped in tradition is improvising its way into a new reality. All right George or thanks to you and of course tonight at the Vatican the papal apartment has been sealed with a red ribbon. Awaiting a new occupant in a modern twist. The pope's Twitter account has a new message say Dave that kind today. Vacant. Seat.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.