Former pope Benedict XVI has died at the age of 95, almost a decade after he stood down from the papacy.
After leading the Catholic Church from 2005 to 2013, Benedict became the first pope in almost 600 years to relinquish his role.
Increasingly frail after resigning on health grounds, he continued to reside within the Vatican’s walls and was given the title of pope emeritus.
“With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9.34am in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican,” a Vatican spokesman said.
Benedict’s body will lie in state from Monday in St Peter’s Basilica.
Further information will be released “as soon as possible,” the spokesman said.
The Vatican has painstakingly elaborate rituals for what happens after a reigning pope dies but no publicly known ones for a former pope.
His successor Pope Francis visited him at the monastery on Thursday morning as Benedict’s condition worsened, the Vatican said.
The nature of his illness was not disclosed, but Francis described him as “very sick” and asked for prayers.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, said Benedict was “one of the great theologians of the 20th century”.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Pope Benedict,” he said.
“He will be remembered as one of the great theologians of the 20th century.
“I remember with particular affection the remarkable Papal Visit to these lands in 2010. We saw his courtesy, his gentleness, the perceptiveness of his mind and the openness of his welcome to everybody that he met.”
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I am saddened to learn of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
“He was a great theologian whose UK visit in 2010 was an historic moment for both Catholics and non-Catholics throughout our country.
“My thoughts are with Catholic people in the UK and around the world today.”
French President Emmanuel Macron said: “My thoughts go out to Catholics in France and around the world, bereaved by the departure of His Holiness Benedict XVI, who worked with soul and intelligence for a more fraternal world.”
Born Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict became the first German pope in centuries when he succeeded John Paul II in 2005.
Seen as a conservative, he became a standard-bearer for traditionalists who sometimes continued to look to him after Francis took over.
Benedict’s papacy took place in the shadow of an evolving sexual abuse scandal that led to questions about what senior figures had known.
In February he asked for forgiveness from victims of historic abuse after a report criticised his failure to intervene when he was Archbishop of Munich.