Vatican City, Dec 31 (IANS): Former Pope Benedict XVI passed away at his residence in the Vatican on Saturday. He was 95, according to an official announcement.
In a statement, The Vatican said: "With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9.34 a.m. in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. Further information will be provided as soon as possible."
Benedict led the Catholic Church from April 2005 to February 2013. stood down due to his ailing health becoming the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.
Benedict spent his final years at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery within the walls of the Vatican.
His successor Pope Francis said he had visited him there frequently.
Although the former pontiff had been ill for some time, the Holy See said there had been an aggravation in his condition because of advancing age.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis appealed to his final audience of the year at the Vatican to "pray a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict", whom he said was very ill.
Born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany, Benedict was 78 when in 2005 he became one of the oldest popes ever elected.