"You know that this is a different day for me than earlier days. I am no longer the pope, but I'm still in the church. I'm just a pilgrim who is starting the last part of his pilgrimage on this Earth.
"And with all my heart and prayer and love, and with my thoughts and strength, I would like to work for the common good ... and feel very much supported (by you). ... Thank you all very much.
"So accept my blessing. May God bless you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
"Thank you all. Good night. Thank you all."
With that, as bells ring and the crowd cheers, he turns around and re-enters the retreat.
[Updated at 11:38 a.m. ET]
Benedict has appeared on the balcony. This is expected to be his last public appearance as pope.
Massive amounts of flag-waving from the crowd now. The pope stretches out his hands.
[Updated at 11:34 a.m. ET]
To give you an idea of how big this crowd is relative to the space available to it: In a town of about 9,000 residents, about 10,000 people are now in or near the village square.
[Updated at 11:33 a.m. ET]
Benedict is out of the car, and after shaking a hand or two, is walking into the papal retreat in the town of Castel Gandolfo.
The thousands of people waiting in the village square -- many waving Vatican flags -- are waiting for him to appear on the residence's balcony.
[Updated at 11:30 a.m. ET]
A car is now taking Benedict to the papal retreat at the Italian town of Castel Gandolfo.
He'll get a warm greeting in the town after a roughly 2-kilometer drive. Thousands of people have been standing in the village square for hours, ready to greet him and perhaps hear him say something from the balcony of the papal retreat.
That address from the balcony could in the next 15 minutes or so.
[Updated at 11:27 a.m. ET]
Benedict is off the helicopter. Standing just outside the helicopter, he's greeting a delegation at the heliport in the Castel Gandolfo area.
[Updated at 11:24 a.m. ET]
The helicopter, having circled the Vatican as bells rang for the pope in the city-state, has landed in the Castel Gandolfo area. Benedict is due to be greeted by Castel Gandolfo's mayor before a vehicle takes him to the papal retreat, where he'll greet the 10,000 people waiting for him.
[Updated at 11:15 a.m. ET]
Benedict, minutes ago, sent what may be his final Twitter post as pope:
"Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives," he tweeted.
He collected about 2 million Twitter followers since his accounts opened late last year. More than 1.5 million of those follow the English language account.