The 95-year-old Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passed away on Saturday in his residence at the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery where he stayed after resigning from the Petrine ministry in 2013.
“With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican,” the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Matteo Bruni said.
- News of Pope Benedict’s death is released
- Pope Francis’s call for prayers to Benedict a few days before he passed on
- A life well lived and service to the catholic church and world at large
The funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be held on Thursday in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City at 9:30 a.m. local time, Bruni said. The funeral will be led by Pope Francis.
The former pope’s body will lie in state in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican from Monday for the faithful to bid farewell, Vatican News reported Saturday. As per the wish of Pope Emeritus, his funeral will be “simple,” Bruni said.
During a briefing at the Holy See Press office at midday, the director, Matteo Bruni, told journalists that Pope Francis will preside over the funeral of the Pope Emeritus on 5 January at 9.30 CET in St. Peter’s Square.
He added that as from Monday, the body of Benedict XVI will be lying in state in the Basilica so that the faithful who wish to do so may pay their last respects with prayers and a final farewell.
Bruni also said the Pope Emeritus on Wednesday, 28th in the afternoon, received the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick in the monastery at the end of Holy Mass.
And speaking to reporters after the briefing he said Benedict specifically asked that everything – including the funeral – be marked by simplicity, just as he lived his life.
News of his death came days after Pope Francis asked the faithful to pray for Benedict, saying he was “very sick.”
Pope Francis ask pilgrims to pray for Pope Benedict XVI who was very ill
At the end of the Pope’s final audience of the year, he asked people to “pray a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI”.
The Vatican then said the ex-Pope’s health had worsened in recent hours.
“The situation at the moment remains under control, constantly followed by doctors,” said spokesman Matteo Bruni.
Pope Francis was addressing a general audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall when he looked up from a piece of paper and spoke about Benedict’s declining health.
He then made the short trip from the hall to the Vatican Gardens to see Benedict at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, where he has lived since he stepped down.
Earlier this month Francis revealed he frequently visited his predecessor.
Speaking of Benedict as a “saint” and a man of high spiritual life, he said the former pope was lucid and had a good sense of humor.
The former Pope has struggled with speech for some time and two years ago a Maltese cardinal said Benedict had told new cardinals that “the Lord has taken away my speech to let me appreciate silence”. “He speaks softly but follows your conversation,” Pope Francis told Spanish newspaper ABC.
Cardinals around the world joined Pope Francis in praying for his predecessor. “In these difficult and serious moments, let us unite in fervent prayer for our dear Pope Emeritus,” wrote Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, the most senior African prelate at the Vatican until last year.
When the Pope took new cardinals to meet him at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in August, Benedict looked frail but he shook them all by the hand and engaged with them.
Pope Benedict XVI resignation
Benedict XVI was 85 when in February 2013 he surprised Catholics around the world with his decision to step down. No other pope had stepped down since Gregory XII in 1415 and Benedict was the first to do so voluntarily since Celestine V in 1294.
When he became 265th Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church it was the culmination of the rapid, and highly controversial, rise of Joseph Ratzinger.
Benedict had presided over his predecessor John Paul’s funeral Mass. He was the eighth German to become Pope and was known for his conservative, traditionalist views, campaigning against the social activism of liberation theology.
Benedict was a powerful force in the Catholic Church for decades. Born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany in 1927, he was the son of a policeman. He was ordained as a priest in 1951, made a cardinal in 1977, and later served as chief theological adviser to Pope John Paul II.
One of his most significant steps up came in 1981 when he took over as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the Vatican office that oversees “the doctrine on the faith and morals throughout the Catholic world,” according to the Vatican.
Ratzinger became known as “Cardinal No” stemming from his efforts to crack down on the liberation theology movement, religious pluralism, challenges to traditional teachings on issues such as homosexuality, and calls to ordain women as priests.