Benedict XVI spent almost eight years as pope, and the past five years as something no man has been since the 15th century — pope emeritus.

Now, the pontiff who stunned the Vatican by retiring from the position in February 2013 says he is headed toward his next step: “I am on a pilgrimage toward Home.”

Writing in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, he capitalized the word “Casa” to refer to his heavenly home.

Now 90 years old, Benedict says he has heard from many well-wishers, including readers of the Italian paper, who “want to know how I am experiencing this last period of my life.”

According to widely published translations of Benedict’s short letter, he said that his physical strength is diminishing. “It is a great grace in this last, sometimes tiring stage of my journey, to be surrounded by a love and kindness that I never could have imagined,” he wrote.

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