It was a warm welcome for Pope Benedict XVI as he led a crowd of tens of thousands of people in his final Sunday blessing.

During what was his second-last public appearance the Pope said he would take up a life of prayer and meditation in order to serve the church.

The 85-year-old Benedict told the faithful that he’s not abandoning the church, and will instead serve in a way more suitable to his age and strength.

Benedict led the crowd in a short sermon before singing a common Catholic prayer with the crowd that had gathered.

Thursday will be the Pope’s final day on the job, after he announced his resignation earlier this month.

His final public appearance will be at his weekly audience on Wednesday in the square.

Meanwhile, Toronto’s Archbishop Cardinal Thomas Collins will head to Rome Sunday after mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral.

He will participate in the final papal audience as well as the upcoming conclave to choose a new leader.