Usually a Pope holds his Wednesday General Audience in the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall within the Vatican, or in St Peters Basilica. Today it was held in St Peters Square due to the large crowds and heavy demand to see him one last time.
Obviously this is a unique occasion. Most Popes die in office and the last Pope to have abdicated was in 1415, the last Pope to voluntarily abdicate was Celestine V in 1294, so there is a lot here that is fairly unprecedented, not least for the Pope to knowingly give his final speech as Pope and for the faithful to know they are seeing him for the last time as Pope. Sometimes with terminally ill Popes, such as John XXIII and John Paul II, one had a good idea but this is different, in this case we know for sure that this is the final audience.
As expected it was a hardly controversial speech, but he did say that when the votes were stacked in his favour at the Conclave that elected him eight years ago he felt daunted (something John Paul I also admitted to the day after he was elected) and that sometimes the waters were choppyand overwhelming, but one thing I think both Liberals and Conservatives within the Roman Catholic Church can agree on is that whoever succeeds Benedict XVI is in a vulnerable position, will likely feel vulnerable, and needs all the prayers he can get from Christians everywhere. One gets the feeling that this morning was the serene calm before a major storm hits the Roman Catholic Church which will lead to radical changes