back to top

    95-year-old Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passed away

    Former Pope Benedict XVI has died today at the age of 95. He passed away on Saturday (Dec 31) at 9:34 am in his Vatican residence.

    “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,” Vatican News informed on Twitter. 

    On the Vatican News website, one can read that the Vatican had said the body of Pope Emeritus will be placed in St Peter’s Basilica from 2 January for “the greeting of the faithful.”

    Joseph Ratzinger was born on 16 April 1927 in Marktl in Bavaria. Like most German children at the time, he was conscripted into the Hitlerjugend and ended up in the air defence auxiliary service. In November 1944, he was conscripted into the Wehrmacht. At the end of the war, he was interned in an American prisoner-of-war camp. Released in July 1945, he entered the Munich seminary together with his older brother Georg.

    The two brothers were ordained priests on 29 June 1951. Joseph studied philosophy and theology. In 1953, he defended his doctoral thesis and four years later obtained his habilitation. He spent ten years as a professor at several German universities.

    On 19 April 2005, he was elected Pope on the second day of the conclave and took the name, Benedict XVI. His election was not a surprise. Already at the end of St John Paul II’s pontificate, it was thought that he would be his successor.

    On 11 February 2013, during a consistory convened at the Vatican for the upcoming canonisations, Benedict XVI unexpectedly announced his resignation as Pope. His declaration of abdication, made in Latin, caused a shock and an earthquake in the Church. He stepped down after seven years and ten months of the pontificate.

    For a long time, the retired Pope did not appear in public. Occasionally, his photos were published recently by people who met him while visiting him at the former Mater Ecclesiae monastery building where he lived. Pope Francis has been there many times.

    Benedict XVI died on Saturday morning, at the age of 95.

    More in section