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Pope to stay at papal summer residence until successor named

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Benedict XVI - as pope emeritus - will spend several months in the traditional summer residence of popes. (Source: CNN) Benedict XVI - as pope emeritus - will spend several months in the traditional summer residence of popes. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) - The reign of Pope Benedict XVI is about to come to an end. He will begin Thursday as the head of state and leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

By the end of the day, he'll simply be known as "pope emeritus." Benedict will spend the morning greeting all of the cardinals individually, as he did earlier this month.

Later, he will stay at the papal summer residence, Castel Gandolfo.

The massive doors of Castel Gandolfo have opened for popes since 1626.

Pope Benedict XIV once wrote only here could he escape the pressures of the job.

Benedict XVI - as pope emeritus - will spend several months in this traditional summer residence of popes before returning to the Vatican to a live in a convent being specially prepared for his retirement.

Castel Gandolfo is comprised of 55 hectares - almost a 135 acres - of manicured gardens, olive groves, orchards and pastures in the Alban hills, home to Frascati wine.

History runs deep, with a tunnel dating back to Roman times.

From more recent times, you can still see the damage from allied bombing during World War II. The staff here recount that thousands of local residents took refuge in Castel Gandolfo during the war, and the papal bedroom was converted into a delivery room, where as many as 50 babies were born.

Director of Pontifical Villas Saverio Petrillo says he doesn't expect the 85-year-old former pontiff to spend much time outside.

"The holy father takes short strolls," he says. "He isn't one to go on long walks like John Paul II. He is by nature a reserved man, a man of study, he doesn't like to stay out in the open.

He's more likely to pass his days in his private apartments - not shown to visiting journalists - or in the reception area, a relatively Spartan set of rooms with little decoration but for a fairly vivid painting depicting the martyrdom of Vietnamese Christians in the seventeenth century.

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