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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passes on @ 95

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has died at the age of 95, the Vatican announced.

His death on Saturday came days after Pope Francis had asked for prayers for his predecessor, saying he was “very sick”.

The Holy See Press Office said Benedict, the first German pope in 1,000 years, died at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, which he had chosen as his residence after resigning in 2013.

His body would lie in state from Monday in Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican said.

Francis will lead the funeral, to be held in St Peter’s Square on January 5. The ceremony is set to start at 9:30 am (0830 GMT).

The Vatican has been vague about what ailed Benedict, saying only that his worsening health was due to his advanced age.

For nearly 25 years, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict was the powerful head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, then known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

Conservatives in the church have looked to the former pope as their standard bearer and some ultra-traditionalists even refused to acknowledge Francis as a legitimate pontiff.

Read the biography of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

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