BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore area Catholics held special masses around the city to honor Pope Benedict XVI, who officially stepped down Thursday.

Christie Ileto has more on this historic moment.

Many Maryland Catholics are saying history was made Thursday. Although they’re left without a spiritual leader for the time being, many say they can’t wait to find out who is going to be filling those very big shoes.

A medley of church bells rang at Cathedral of Mary Our Queen Thursday.

Baltimore Catholics are honoring Pope Benedict XVI, who will now be known as Pope Emeritus. He sets a precedence leaving his post as pope to nurse his health–the first to do so in nearly 600 years.

“I really hope he has a nice rest of his life,” said Dylan, a student at the School of the Cathedral.

Dylan and his classmates are recognizing the work the former pope has done at a special mass.

“Our school is just celebrating his life,” said Charlotte.

Students have been learning about the 85-year-old, even following him on Twitter.

“We’ve called that up on our smart board a couple of times recently and looked at his Tweets and seen what he’s had to say,” said teacher Bridget Sheehey.

His last posting as pope reads: “Thank you for your love and support.”

His final hours were broadcast around the world.

“I feel this is a very historic day in our church,” said Julie St. Croix.

The papacy that began on April 19, 2005 is over.

By midday Thursday, 1.2 billion Roman Catholics around the world are left leaderless, and the operation to find a successor begins.

“I have great confidence that the spirit will lead the cardinals to make the right choice of who God wants to lead the church now,” Msgr. Rick Woy, Archdiocese of Baltimore

The search for a new pope will start next month, and many Baltimore Catholics are hoping his successor can fill his big shoes.

“He’s left us a wonderful legacy,” a parishioner said.

The official resignation went into effect at 2 p.m., and the Tweets on that famous Twitter page of his have been deleted.

Elections for a new pope will likely happen in March, and the Vatican anticipates there will be a new pope before Easter.


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