Benedict XVI, the 265th pope of the Catholic Church, died Saturday at the age of 95. He was the longest-serving Supreme Pontiff in history, having surpassed Leo XIII (1810-1903).
The pope emeritus died at the age of 95 in the Vatican's Mater Ecclesiae monastery, where he had resided since his historic resignation from the pontificate in 2013, the Holy See confirmed today in a statement.
It is with regret that I make known that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has passed away at 9:34 a.m. at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican, reads the official Vatican note, in six languages.
Concern over the health condition of the German pope and theologian arose on Wednesday, December 28, when his successor, Francis, acknowledged that he was very ill and asked for a special prayer from the faithful attending his general audience.
Shortly afterwards, the spokesman of the Holy See, Matteo Bruni, confirmed that Benedict XVI's situation had worsened because of his advanced age.
The emeritus pontiff's personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Ganswein, had repeatedly stated in recent years that he was like a candle that is slowly and serenely extinguished.
A day later, the Holy See assured that Benedict XVI had managed to rest well during the night, was absolutely lucid and attentive and remained stable despite the seriousness of his condition.
A situation that continued on December 30, when he presented a stable condition, although he was able to attend a Mass celebrated in his room.
Benedict XVI had decided to spend these moments in his stay in the monastery where he resides since his historic resignation from the papacy, announced on February 11, 2013 and consummated on the 28th of that same month, the first time in six centuries, since the time of Gregory XII.
After learning of his situation, numerous faithful had gathered in different dioceses and temples around the world to pray for him, following Francis' indications.
Since April 2, 2013, Ratzinger has lived surrounded by his Vatican family, made up of his secretary, a doctor, a nurse and four consecrated laywomen from the Memores Domini institute, which belongs to the Communion and Liberation movement, who share the housework and take care of the needs of the pope emeritus.
Benedict XVI promised to remain silent after his resignation as a sign of respect for his successor, although on some occasions he has reacted to some current issues that affected him in some way.
For example, in February 2022 he asked forgiveness for abuses and mistakes during his tenures in the various offices he has held, following the release of a report on child sexual abuse in Germany in which he was accused of being aware during his time as archbishop of Munich (1977-1982).
Once again I can only express to all victims of sexual abuse my deep shame, my great sorrow and my sincere request for forgiveness. I have borne a great responsibility in the Catholic Church, he stressed in a statement.
He had only rarely left the Leonine walls, once to visit his inseparable brother, Georg, in the hospital and in June 2020 when he traveled to Regensburg to see him again a few weeks before his death at the age of 95.