Updated: Thursday, 28 Feb 2013, 9:33 AM EST
Published : Thursday, 28 Feb 2013, 9:33 AM EST
Luciano Mariani is bidding farewell to his sixth pope with a big parade.
Mariani, a member of the famed Knights of Malta who has served a succession of popes at Castel Gandolfo, met his first pope, Pius XII, as a boy. He and other members of the order help tend the grounds at the estate, where Benedict XVI will arrive later today to spend the last hours of his papacy.
Mariani and his fellow Knights of Malta will dress in ceremonial garb to greet him with a parade.
Mariani, 69, says Benedict "is a great pope. He did a lot of beautiful and big things for the church." He said his order was shocked by the pope's resignation but he says "we have to accept it as Christians and we have to have faith in it."
The Knights of Malta, which has 13,500 members worldwide, celebrated its 900th anniversary last month.
— Amer Cohadzic, AP video producer.
"Pope Live" follows the events of the final day of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy as seen by journalists from The Associated Press around the world. It will be updated throughout the day with breaking news and other items of interest. Follow AP reporters on Twitter where available.
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