Catholic Christians awoke on Tuesday still trying to grasp the news that their pope will stand down at the end of the month.
Pope Benedict XVI stunned the Roman Catholic community on Monday when he announced he would resign his post, becoming the first pontiff to do so since the Middle Ages.
He cited declining physical and mental strength as reasons for his abdication.
While the news is splashed across the front pages of Italian newspapers, St. Peter's Square was quiet on Tuesday morning, with just a few pilgrims milling around.
Some felt optimistic about the papal shakeup.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) BELGIAN PILGRIM, IVAN VAN GELDER, SAYING:
"It's for the Church. Yes, yes."
(SOUNDBITE) (Italian) PILGRIM, PAOLO PUCCINI, SAYING:
"It's going to be a delicate passage but I'm hopeful and I think soon there will be a new pope and we'll be here to celebrate."
Famously known as "God's Rottweiler" before he ascended the papacy in 2005, Benedict fought against the spread of materialist values in society.
He also strongly opposed any relaxation of the Church's traditional strictures against contraception, homosexuality and female priests.
Vatican pilgrims react to Pope's resignation (1:28)
Feb. 12 - The Vatican awakes to a new day as the Catholic community absorbs news that Pope Benedict XVI will step down at the end of February. Travis Brecher reports. ( Transcript )