(REUTERS) — Pope Benedict asked the faithful to pray for him and for the next pope, addressing a crowded St. Peter’s Square in his penultimate Sunday address before becoming the first pontiff in centuries to resign.

The crowd chanted “Long live the pope!,” waved banners and broke into sustained applause as he spoke from his window. The 85-year-old Benedict, who will resign on February 28, thanked them in several languages.

Speaking in Spanish, he told the crowd which the Vatican said numbered more than 50,000: “I beg you to continue praying for me and for the next pope.”

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