A statement from Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said: “With pain I inform that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesia Monastery in the Vatican. Further information will be released as soon as possible.”

Last night, Bruni said the former Pontiff was well enough to take mass in his room, just hours before he passed away.

He was said to have been in a stable condition.

“Last night the Pope Emeritus was able to rest well,” Bruni said in a statement. “He also participated in the celebration of Holy Mass in his room yesterday afternoon. At present his condition is stationary.”

It came after his successor Pope Francis announced that Benedict was “very sick”, calling on his audience to pray for him on Wednesday.

Pope Francis surprised followers with the appeal as he finished his general audience at the Vatican, providing no further details.

The Vatican has also confirmed in a statement that the health of Pope Benedict has suddenly worsened.

After Pope Francis spoke about Benedict becoming ‘very sick’, Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said: “Regarding the health conditions of the emeritus pope, for whom Pope Francis asked for prayers at the end of his general audience this morning, I can confirm that in the last hours, a worsening due to advanced age has happened.

“The situation at the moment remains under control, constantly monitored by doctors.”

The Catholic Archbishop of Westminster said it was a “measure of self-understanding” when Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI resigned from is post back in 2013.

However, the Archbishop said the Pope’s historic decision to resign due to his advancing age would remain “an exception”.

Speaking on Times Radio, Cardinal Vincent Nichols also described the “great affinity” between the former pope and the late Queen, and his admiration for her continuing royal duties until the end.

On the former pope Benedict resigning his post, he said: “This is the first time in 600 years, so who knows what might develop. I think it will remain an exception myself.

“I think there was a great affinity between Pope Benedict and her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” he added.

“When Benedict decided to come to this country, he decided that the first thing he had to do was visit the Queen. And she was 95, she held her office to the end and I think he admired that very much.

“It was a measure of his self-understanding and the difficulties he was getting into physically as well that he said no, it needs somebody else to do this.”

Pope Benedict XVI, originally called Joseph Alois Ratzinger, was born in Germany to a policeman father and a hotel cook mother.

As a teenager he was drafted into the army, although he has claimed that he never took part in combat or fired a shot.

After the war he continued his education in a seminary, having had a desire to enter the priesthood at an early age.

In June 1951 he was ordained as a priest and began a career in academia, teaching theology at universities in Germany.

He was elected on April 19, 2005 at the age of 78 – the oldest to have done so since Pope Clement XII 1730.

Pope Benedict XVI, who was 95 at the time of his death, was the head of the Catholic Church between April 2005 and February 2013.

He resigned from the post aged 85 in 2013, making him the first to quit in 600 years. He resigned from the Church’s top spot, saying his old age had limited his abilities to carry out his sacred duties.

Benedict had lived since his resignation in a monastery on the grounds of the Vatican.

The former pontiff had suffered bad health in the years leading up to his death – in 2020 there were reports of the pope having become seriously ill with shingles with reports he could “barely speak”.

Source: mirror.co.uk