Vatican says Benedict in stable condition, attended Mass

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was in stable condition on Friday after his health declined and was able to attend a private mass in his chambers as worshipers in Rome prepared to mark “his final pilgrimage,” the Vatican said.

The Vatican provided a new medical bulletin Friday afternoon, saying Benedict had been able to rest well for the second night.

“He also attended the celebration of Holy Mass in his room yesterday afternoon,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement. “His condition is at rest at the moment.”

On Wednesday, Pope Francis revealed that his 95-year-old predecessor was “very ill” and that he visited him at his home in the Vatican Gardens. Francis’ call for prayers for Benedict led to messages of solidarity from rank-and-file Catholics and cardinals alike.

In 2013, Benedict became the first pope in 600 years to resign, saying he was unable to lead the Catholic Church of 1.2 billion people. His resignation paved the way for Francis’ election.

Benedict has chosen to spend his retirement in seclusion in a converted monastery in the Vatican, where he is cared for by a team of doctors and his longtime papal family: his secretary, Georg Gaineswinmont and several dedicated women who are responsible for the care of the family.

Later on Friday, Rome’s Cardinal Angelo de Donatis will hold a special mass in the Basilica of St. John Lateran for Benedict, who technically was Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome.

The Mass began and ended with a special prayer by the retired pope, according to a liturgical booklet released by De Donatis’ office.

Part of the opening prayer reads: “May the Lord support and comfort him in his final pilgrimage so that he may continue to offer himself for the good of the Church by bearing witness to Christ who was victorious even in suffering.”

Benedict has said that when he dies, he wishes to be buried in the basement of the grotto below St Peter’s Basilica, which was once the mausoleum of St John Paul II and has been moved upstairs to the main building in recent years. church.