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Pope Admits 'Stormy Waters' as he Bids Farewell to Huge Crowds

Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday admitted "stormy waters" during his pontificate as he held his last audience in St. Peter's Square before tens of thousands of pilgrims on the eve of his historic resignation.

Benedict toured the Vatican plaza in his famous "popemobile,” stopping to kiss children and waving to the crowd of more than 100,000 gathered under a bright, cloudless sky.

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Pope Asks Faithful to 'Keep Praying for Me'

Pope Benedict XVI made his first public appearance on Wednesday since his shock resignation announcement, asking thousands of cheering pilgrims at the Vatican to "keep praying for me".

The 85-year-old pontiff was greeted by a standing ovation and chants of "Benedetto", his name in Italian, at his weekly audience in the Paul VI auditorium, with a prominent banner reading "Thank You, Holiness".

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Church in Uncharted Waters after Pope Resignation Move

The Catholic Church entered uncharted waters on Tuesday after Pope Benedict XVI's shock announcement that he would become the first pontiff to resign of his own free will in 700 years.

The 85-year-old Benedict told a group of cardinals in a speech in Latin on Monday that he will step down on February 28 because his advancing age prevented him from carrying out his duties in a fast-changing world.

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Pope Announces Resignation in Historic Move

Pope Benedict XVI announced on Monday he will resign because of old age, becoming the first pontiff in more than six centuries to step down in a move that stunned the world.

The German-born leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics said he would resign on February 28 after just eight years as pope, one of the shortest pontificates in modern history.

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Three Injured as Plane Misses Rome Runway

Three people were injured and required hospital treatment after a ATR 72 turboprop plane of the Romanian airline Carpatair went off the runway while landing at Rome's Fiumicino airport, authorities said.

The plane, carrying 50 people from Pisa, finished up at an angle on grass and its landing gear was broken, emergency services and airport officials said.

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Fendi Sponsors Restoration of Trevi Fountain

The Fendi fashion house is financing a €2.18 million ($2.93 million) restoration of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, famed as a setting for the film "La Dolce Vita" and the place where dreamers leave their coins.

The 20-month project on one of the city's most iconic fountains was unveiled at a city hall press conference Monday featuring Fendi designers Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi, who said the project combined a love of Rome's past with a need to preserve its future.

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Colosseum Cleaning Yields Old Frescos, Graffiti

A long-delayed restoration of the Colosseum's only intact internal passageway has yielded ancient traces of red, black and blue frescoes — as well as graffiti and drawings of phallic symbols — indicating that the arena where gladiators fought was far more colorful than previously thought.

Officials unveiled the discoveries Friday and said the passageway would be open to the public starting this summer, after the €80,000 ($100,000) restoration is completed.

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Vatican Artist from Russia Follows the Old Masters

After Michelangelo and Raphael, the Vatican's latest official painter is something of an unusual choice -- an ebullient Russian woman with a pet owl who is a regular at the court of cardinals and popes.

An Orthodox believer in the heart of Roman Catholicism, Natalia Tsarkova paints her classical-style portraits in a flat filled with Vatican memorabilia by the walls of the Holy See.

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Suleiman Grants al-Rahi Order of Cedar, Urges Officials to Attend Dialogue

President Michel Suleiman reiterated on Saturday calls for Lebanese foes to attend the all-party talks, urging officials not to favor any side in the Syrian conflict.

“Everyone should attend the national dialogue and officials shouldn't favor neither the Syrian regime nor the opposition,” Suleiman said after granting Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Beshara al-Rahi the National Order of the Cedar medal, Lebanon's highest honor.

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Report: Berri, Miqati not in Rome over Rejection to Become 'Accessories'

Disagreement on the Lebanese official delegation's participation in Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi's appointment as cardinal in Rome prevented the attendance of Speaker Nabih Berri and Premier Najib Miqati, al-Liwaa daily reported on Saturday.

The newspaper said that both Berri and Miqati refused to become “accessories” and wait in line following Suleiman's insistence to hold separate talks with Pope Benedict XVI on the eve of the ceremony.

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