Pope Benedict is set to hold his final public general audience in St Peter's Square ahead of his retirement later this week.
The unprecedented event sparked 50,000 ticket requests from people desperate to witness the pope's farewell. He is expected to use the pope mobile to get closer to the crowds.
On Thursday, the pope will meet with his cardinals in the morning and then fly by helicopter at 5pm to Castel Gandolfo, the papal residence south of Rome. Benedict will greet parishioners there from the palazzo's balcony - his final public act as pope.
At 8pm, the exact time at which his retirement becomes official, the Swiss Guards standing outside the doors of the palazzo at Castel Gandolfo will go off duty, their service protecting the head of the Catholic Church finished.
It was confirmed on Tuesday that the pope will be known as "emeritus pope" after he retires and will continue to wear a white cassock.
While he will no longer wear his trademark red shoes, Benedict has taken a liking to a pair of hand-crafted brown loafers made for him by artisans in Leon, Mexico, and presented to him during his 2012 visit. He will wear them in retirement.
Meanwhile, Vatican spokesman the Rev Federico Lombardi has revealed details on the College of Cardinals meetings that will take place after the papacy becomes vacant on Thursday - crucial gatherings in which cardinals will discuss the problems facing the church and set a date for the start of the conclave to elect the successor.
The first meeting is not now expected until Monday since the official convocation to cardinals to come to Rome will only go out on Friday - the first day of what is known as the "sede vacante", or the vacancy between papacies.
In all 115 cardinals under the age of 80 are expected in Rome for the conclave to vote on who should become the next pope. Cardinals who are 80 and older can join the College meetings but are not part of the conclave and cannot vote.
Benedict has given the cardinals the go-ahead to move up the start date of the conclave - ending the traditional 15-day waiting period. But the cardinals will not actually set a date for the conclave until they begin meeting officially on Monday.