Former pope Benedict XVI, who became the first pontiff to resign in some 600 years, has died aged 95, according to Sky News.
Pope Francis, who replaced him as head of the Catholic Church, had asked the faithful to pray for him at the end of his general audience on Wednesday morning.
“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,” a spokesperson said.
“Further information will be provided as soon as possible.”
The health of the Pope Emeritus, as Benedict was called after he stepped down, had undergone a “worsening in the last hours” due to his age, the Vatican said, and doctors were constantly monitoring his condition.
Francis had gone to visit Benedict at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in Vatican City after the audience.
Benedict had lived in the Vatican, a separate nation-state that is within the boundary of the Italian capital Rome, after he ceased being Pope in 2013.
He had become increasingly frail in recent years after dedicating his post-papacy life to prayer and meditation.
For hundreds of years before Benedict became the Holy Father, popes had headed the Catholic Church until their deaths.
On 11 February 2013, Benedict’s surprise announcement to stand aside shocked the Catholic world, and forced the church to grapple with an event it had not seen in centuries.
He said he wanted to resign as he no longer had the physical and mental strength to run the church.