CHICAGO (WLS) -- Catholics gathered together at Holy Name Cathedral in downtown Chicago Monday to remember and celebrate the life of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
Cardinal Blase Cupich says the pope lived a life dedicated to learning and his faith.
"He had a brilliant mind, wrote elegantly and talked in a way that inspired his students to learn," Cupich said.
Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, led the Mass and reflected on Benedict's life of committed service to the Catholic Church.
"He acquired a humility that became second nature to him, leaving him with a palpable sense of being connected with others," Cupich said.
Olivia Verduzco, a high school senior, said she felt like she was part of history while remembering the pope's life at the Mass.
"I was front row, too, so I just felt his spirit around me and it really was an amazing experience," Verduzco said. "I've been to the cathedral before, but this was an experience unlike any other."
Benedict XVI was at the helm of the Catholic faith for eight years from 2005 to 2013 and was the first pope in nearly 600 years to step down from the post.
"Pope Benedict had a great mind and he was a great teacher," Bishop Robert Lombardo said, "and that's one of the important dimensions of the church - to be able to teach what Jesus left us."
Benedict maintained the church's traditional, conservative values and also addressed the sexual abuse crisis plagued by priests during a 2008 visit to the United States.
"No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse," Pope Benedict XVI said at the time.
But Cardinal Cupich said it's what the pope said at the end of his life that speaks volumes about his heart.
"His last words reportedly in his native German language was... 'Jesus, I love you,'" Cupich said.
The funeral for Pope Benedict XVI is set for Thursday at the Vatican, where he lived and died.