Pope Benedict XVI, who served as leader of the Catholic church from 2005 until his resignation in 2013, died on Saturday aged 95, three days after his successor, Pope Francis, warned the world that he was gravely ill.
“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.
The German pope emeritus, whose birth name was Joseph Ratzinger, had been living a quiet life in a former convent inside the Vatican grounds since his shock decision to step down in February 2013.
His health had been declining for a long time, but the Vatican revealed on Wednesday that his situation had worsened, while his successor Pope Francis called for Catholics worldwide to pray for him.
His death brings to an end an unprecedented situation in which two “men in white” — Benedict and Francis — had co-existed within the walls of the tiny city state.
While there is no rulebook for former popes, Benedict’s funeral is expected to be at the Vatican, presided over by Francis.
In 2005 the body of John Paul II, the last pope to die, lay in state before a funeral mass in St Peter’s Square attended by one million people, including heads of state.