Nearly ten years after becoming the first pope to step down in six centuries, the Vatican announced on Saturday that former pope Benedict XVI had passed away at the age of 95.
Two “men in white” — Benedict and his successor Pope Francis — had coexisted inside the gates of the small city state, which was an extraordinary circumstance that comes to an end with his passing.
“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,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.
His body will be on public display beginning on Monday morning in the solemn surroundings of Saint Peter’s Basilica to allow the faithful to pay their respects.
The German pope emeritus, whose birth name was Joseph Ratzinger, had been spending a peaceful life at a deserted monastery on the grounds of the Vatican since his unexpected resignation in February 2013.
Francis requested Catholics all around the world to pray for him after the Vatican acknowledged on Wednesday that his condition had worsened. His condition had been declining for some time.
Francis is expected to preside over Benedict’s funeral at the Vatican, despite the fact that previous popes have not followed a specific process.
Prior to his funeral mass, which was attended by one million people, including heads of state, John Paul II, the last pope to die, was buried in St. Peter’s Square.