Benedict XVI is fulfilling his goal of leading a quiet life of prayer, following the official end to his papacy.

After he woke Friday, the former pope took part in a 7 a.m. mass and spent time in the gardens of Castel Gandolfo, reciting the prayers of the rosary.

Vatican spokesman Thomas Rosica of the U.S. said the retired pontiff spent the evening with Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, Benedict's secretary, at the papal summer retreat south of Rome.

It was from Castel Gandolfo that Benedict XVI delivered his final address as head of the Roman Catholic Church to a crowd waiting outside the residence, before officially retiring at 8 p.m. local time. He had arrived there by an Italian air force helicopter.

After his speech, he had dinner with Monsignor Gaenswein. The pope emeritus, as he will be known, then took a walk through the palace, before the two men watched two newscasts of the day's events.

"Both of them had a very good night's sleep, as you can imagine." Rosario told reporters.

Gaenswein reported that Benedict was relaxed and has been playing piano in recent days.

Benedict, 85, who became the first pope in 600 years to retire, said he will live at Castel Gandolfo "simply as a pilgrim."

He is expected to return to live behind the Vatican walls in two to three months time, in a monastery being readied for him.

Are you going to Rome for the papal conclave? We want to connect with Canadians on the ground who are making the pilgrimage to the Vatican for the election of the next pope. If you or someone you know is going over or has already arrived send us an email at community@cbc.ca

For now, the church is without a leader in a period known as the "sede vacante" or "vacant see" — the transition between the end of one papacy and the start of another.

Benedict told a group of cardinals in Vatican City on Thursday that he will pledge to obey the next pontiff.

On Monday, cardinals will gather in Rome to consider a date for the start of the conclave, a special gathering most of them will attend to decide who should become the new pope.

"[It will]

be important not to be expect the date of the start of the conclave to be announced on Monday," Rev. Rosica told reporters on Friday.

"The cardinals have to be in the rhythm of the meetings, get used to those meetings and then in the course of next week we'll be able to announce the beginning date of the conclave. Just be patient until we announce that," he said.

With files from The Associated Press