Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s longtime secretary recounts the former Pontiff’s last words, spoken hours before he died.
Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Papal Household has shared that the words “I love you Lord” were uttered by Benedict in the middle of the night and heard by a nurse attending to him.
The retired pope died a few hours later on Saturday morning, at the age of 95.
“With just a whisper of a voice, but in a clearly distinguishable manner, said in Italian: ‘Lord, I love you!’ I was not there at the moment, but the nurse told me about it shortly afterwards.
“These were his last comprehensible words, because afterwards he was no longer able to express himself,” Gänswein said.
The Vatican has reported that Pope Francis went to pay his respects immediately after Gäenswein called to inform him of Benedict’s death at 9:34am on New Year’s Eve.
Francis prayed for his predecessor’s passage to heaven, during his New Year’s Day remarks on Sunday saying: “Today we entrust to our Blessed Mother our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, so that she may accompany him in his passage from this world to God."
Upwards of 60,000 people filed into St. Peter's Basilica on Monday to pay their respects to the former pope, whose body is lying in state for three days ahead of his funeral this week.
The funeral will take place at 8:30am UK time on Thursday, in St Peter's Square, Vatican City, presided over by his successor Pope Francis.