CITY OF VATICAN — The pope emeritus Benedict XVI was in stable condition on Friday after experiencing deteriorating health and was able to participate in a private mass in his room, the Vatican said, as worshipers in Rome they were preparing to honor “this last leg of their pilgrimage.”
The Vatican provided a new medical bulletin on Friday afternoon that said Benedict put him to a good second night’s rest.
“He also participated in the celebration of Holy Mass in his room yesterday afternoon,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis revealed that his 95-year-old predecessor was “very ill” and went to see him at his home in the Vatican Gardens. Francis asked for prayers for Benedict XVI, which resulted in a deluge of messages of solidarity.
In 2013, Benedict became the first pope in 600 years to resign, saying he no longer had the physical or mental strength to lead the Catholic Church and its 1.2 billion faithful. After him, Francis was elected pope.
Benedict XVI chose to live his retirement in seclusion in a renovated monastery in the Vatican, where he is cared for by a team of doctors and his longtime papal family: his secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, and some consecrated women who take care of the home.
On Friday, the cardinal vicar of Rome, Cardinal Angelo de Donatis, was to celebrate a special mass in honor of the pope emeritus in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of Joseph Ratzinger when he was bishop of Rome.
Benedict XVI has indicated that when he dies, he would like to be buried in the grotto crypt below St. Peter’s Basilica, once occupied by the tomb of St. John Paul II, who was moved to the main basilica in recent years.