CHICAGO (CBS) — It was a momentous occasion for millions of Catholics around the world.

Pope Benedict XVI gave his final Angelus, or prayer celebrating the incarnation of Christ, at the Vatican Sunday morning.

“I thank everyone for the many expressions of gratitude, affection, closeness, and prayer,” said Pope Benedict XVI.

The Pope also encouraged followers to keep their eyes fixed on the Lent season.

The pope’s prayer and blessing took place Sunday morning at 5:00 Chicago time.

Like in the past, the Pope delivered the 13 minute prayer and blessing in several languages, from the window of his apartment, which overlooks St. Peter square.

An estimated 100,000 people anxiously awaited well in advance.

This is the last Sunday for the 85 year-old in his role as Pontiff. He prepares to step down, Thursday.
Here at home, Holy Name Cathedral held a series of special services to honor the pope.

“It is a significant day. The last Sunday in February, I’ll remember it that way,” said parishioner, Robert Johnson.

“This hasn’t happened in 600 years and to happen in my lifetime, where I will witness this, and you can tell how frail he is and I think he’s made the right decision. He is obviously thinking of all of us by doing this,” said parishioner, Angela Luby.

Cardinals around the world are now making their way to the Vatican to begin the process of selecting a new pope, including Chicago’s Archbishop, Cardinal George, who is scheduled to arrive in Rome Wednesday.

The Papal Conclave is set to begin Friday.