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ROME – The Vatican has confirmed that retired Pope Benedict XVI, who made waves throughout the Catholic world with his historic resignation in 2013, died Saturday morning at his residence at the age of 95.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni communicated the news in a statement, saying, “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.”
As of Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, Benedict’s remains will be placed in St. Peter’s Basilica to allow faithful to pay their final respects.
His funeral will be celebrated Thursday, Jan. 5 at 9:30a.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica, and will be presided over by Pope Francis.
Vatican sources have said that “we expect this funeral to be sober, simple and solemn,” as Benedict XVI was an emeritus pope, who was known for his simplicity and humility.
During a press briefing Saturday, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Benedict had received the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick on Wednesday Dec. 28, in anticipation of his passing.
Pope Francis sounded the alarm over his predecessor’s health Wednesday morning during his public general audience, saying Benedict XVI was “very ill” and rallying the world to prayer.
Benedict survived the night and was described as “lucid and alert” on Thursday morning, and on Friday was able to participate in the celebration of Mass in his room.
Elected in 2005 as successor to St. Pope John Paul II, Benedict reigned as the Successor of Peter until he shocked the world in 2013, becoming the first pope in 600 years to resign from the papacy. The last public images of Benedict are from August, when he met with newly appointed cardinals who had just received their red hat from Pope Francis during a consistory.
In a special Mass celebrated for Benedict XVI Friday evening in the papal Basilica of St. John Lateran, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the Vicar of Rome, voiced his “affection” and “gratitude” for the pope emeritus, who he said loved the diocese “so much and served (it) with unselfish love.”
“We like to think that our Bishop Emeritus is now held by the hand of St. Joseph who helps him to always keep alive God’s invitation not to fear,” he said, and praised what he said was Benedict’s “great trust in providence.”
“As a priest, a theologian, a bishop, and as a pope, he expressed, at the same time, the strength and sweetness of faith, the essentiality and simplicity of someone who knows that, when you dream with God, dreams come true,” he said.
“Benedict XVI, a humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard, is a witness of this encounter, a collaborator of truth and joy, of love for Christ and for the Church,” De Donatis said, and called Benedict “a man of his word,” saying the retired pontiff showed in his final hours, “whoever believes is never alone.”
He praised Benedict’s “tenderness, goodness, humility, meekness,” saying that, “in deep communion with Pope Francis, the Pope Emeritus is a sign of the beautiful face of the Church which reflects the light of Christ’s face,” and that the outpouring of prayer for his health is a sign of the church’s vitality.
“In a change of epoch, full of hardships and historical facts that have shocked us, we want to testify, as Benedict repeated several times at the beginning of his pontificate, that the Church is alive, she is alive because Christ is alive, He is truly risen,” he said.
This piece has been updated with funeral information for Benedict XVI.
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