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Surprise! New Pope takes a walk through Rome April 20, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI made his first public appearance on the streets of Rome on Wednesday afternoon, April 20, as he visited his old apartment near Vatican City to transfer some belongings to his new home in the apostolic palace.

The newly elected Pope, clothed completely in the distinctive white vestments of the papacy, caught onlookers by surprise when he chose to travel on foot, walking the few hundred yards to the apartment in the Citta Leonina where he had lived for years. When the news spread that the Pontiff was walking through the city, hundreds of people quickly gathered, and he spent some time in front of the apartment building, greeting the people and blessing young children. Italian police and Vatican security officials did their best to control the crowd, preserving some breathing room for the Pontiff.

After a short stay in his old apartment, the Pontiff reappeared, entering a black car that was waiting for him at the entrance of the building. He paused again to wave to the crowd, turning slowly from one direction to another so that he could greet as many as possible. The crowd burst into cheers of "Long live the Pope!" and the chant that has already become familiar: "Benedetto!" Pope Benedict later commented that he was "very moved" as he resumed direct contact with the faithful.

Pope Benedict had occupied the apartment in Citta Leonina until moving into the Vatican's St. Martha residence, along with all the other cardinal-electors, to begin the conclave on April 18.

Earlier in the day, the new Pope had taken possession of his new apartments in the apostolic palace. He was accompanied by Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, the camerlengo, who had sealed off those apartments after the funeral of Pope John Paul II.