The Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th pope of the Roman Catholic Church, died peacefully in his bed.
"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," said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni. "Further information will be provided as soon as possible."
Pope Francis appealed for special prayers for Benedict earlier in the week, warning that the former pontiff was "seriously ill."
The former Pope had suffered a temporary loss of consciousness the night before he passed away.
"Benedict succeeded Saint John Paul II in leading the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics, reigning from April 19, 2005 until his resignation on February 28, 2013. The German pope shocked the world when he announced his intention to resign, the first pope to do so in some 600 years," reported Breitbart.
"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to adequately exercising the Petrine ministry," he said, adding that he thought his ministry must be accomplished "not only with deeds and words, but no less with prayer and suffering."
"For the past nine years since his resignation, Benedict has lived in a monastery within the Vatican walls, devoting himself to prayer and occasional writing, maintaining a low profile," reports Breitbart.
Pope Benedict visited the United States in 2008, praising America as "a land of great faith" and saying:
Your people are remarkable for their religious fervor and they take pride in belonging to a worshipping community. They have confidence in God, and they do not hesitate to bring moral arguments rooted in biblical faith into their public discourse.
Respect for freedom of religion is deeply ingrained in the American consciousness – a fact which has contributed to this country’s attraction for generations of immigrants, seeking a home where they can worship freely in accordance with their beliefs.
Benedict offered several spiritual reflections on his upcoming passing and his thoughts about his impending death, declaring:
Quite soon, I shall find myself before the final judge of my life.
Even though, as I look back on my long life, I can have great reason for fear and trembling, I am nonetheless of good cheer for I trust firmly that the Lord is not only the just judge, but also the friend and brother who himself has already suffered for my shortcomings, and is thus also my advocate, my 'Paraclete.'
In light of the hour of judgement, the grace of being a Christian becomes all the more clear to me. It grants me knowledge, and indeed friendship, with the judge of my life, and thus allows me to pass confidently through the dark door of death.