(KMID/KPEJ)- Former Pope Benedict XVI has died at his Vatican residence, the Associated Press has confirmed.
Born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany, Benedict was 78 when he was elected in 2005; one of the oldest popes ever elected. The 95-year-old stepped down nearly a decade ago because of his poor health and became the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.
The Vatican said in a statement, “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. Further information will be provided as soon as possible.”
Although the former pontiff had been ill for some time, the Holy See recently said his condition was worsening because of his advancing age. On Wednesday, Pope Francis appealed to an audience at the Vatican to “pray a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict,” whom he said was very sick. His prayer was that God would comfort his predecessor until the very end.
The Vatican said Benedict’s body will be placed in the St Peter’s Basilica on January 2 for “the greeting of the faithful”. Further funeral plans are expected to be announced in the next few hours.