Benedict XVI celebrated his last Ash Wednesday as pope

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VATICAN CITY – Benedict XVI arrived at Saint Peter’s Basilica to celebrate his last Ash Wednesday as Pope, and to mark the beginning of Lent for followers of the Catholic faith.

This was the pontiff’s first public appearance since announcing earlier in the week that he will step down at the end of the month. The cardinals under the age of 80 will meet in conclave by at least March 20.

Texans also took their last step before the 40-days of fasting, like these who attended services at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston.

Daniel Cardinal Dinardo is eligible for selection to be pope, but most people believe he would need more than a prayer for that to happen, but they’re praying for him anyway.

“It’s an interesting time, an exciting time to kinda witness the process,’ said Kenneth Passmore. ‘Even if Cardinal DiNardo does not become the next pope, just knowing that he has a say into who the next pope will be is a, is pretty exciting.”

March 31 Easter Sunday, and Catholics hope to celebrate the Resurrection by celebrating the election of a new holy father.