Pope Benedict XVI, a leading theologian, and the first pope to resign in almost 600 years, died on December 31 at the age of 95. The Vatican press office director, Matteo Bruni, stated, “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.”
Benedict XVI was born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on Holy Saturday, April 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising on June 29, 1951, at the age of 24, was appointed archbishop on May 28, 1977, at the age of 49, and was made a cardinal a month later. He served the Church as a theologian, an advisor at Vatican II, and the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, before being elected to the papacy in 2005. He chose the name Benedict XVI in honor of Benedict XV and St. Benedict.
Benedict penned more than 60 books, including “Introduction to Christianity”, “The Spirit of the Liturgy”, and the “Jesus of Nazareth” trilogy. He also published three encyclicals: Deus caritas est, Spe salvi, and Caritas in Veritate.
On February 11, 2013, Benedict XVI shocked the world by announcing his resignation, breaking with almost 600 years of tradition. His resignation took effect on February 28, 2013, after which Benedict–having adopted the title “pope emeritus”–resided in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery within Vatican City.
The funeral Mass for Benedict XVI was held on January 5 in St. Peter’s Square, in front of an estimated 50,000 people. Pope Francis presided over the funeral, which was kept simple, per Benedict XVI’s wishes.
Following the funeral, all Catholics will observe nine official days of mourning, called the Novemdiales. During this time, public memorial Masses will be held for Pope Benedict XVI around the world. Please check with your local diocese for more information on when and where the Masses will be held. The USCCB has also provided resources on the life of Pope Benedict XVI, which can be found here.