‘Lord, I love you’ was last words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
During his final hours, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI whispered, “Lord, I love you,” according to a nurse who was present, as reported by the former pontiff’s longtime secretary on Sunday.
The German Catholic Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, who resided in the Vatican monastery where Benedict took up residence after retiring in 2013 said that the nurse recalled hearing Benedict utter those comments around 3 a.m. on Saturday. An hour or so later that morning, the retired pope passed away.
Gaenswein told the Vatican’s official media that during a shift change, Benedict XVI said, “Lord, I love you” in Italian.
The archbishop explained, “I wasn’t there in that moment, but the nurse a little later recounted it, They were his last comprehensible words, because afterwards, he wasn’t able to express himself any more.”
The male nurse who gave this information with Gaenswein remains anonymous.
The Vatican previously stated that Pope Francis travelled to offer his respects shortly after 9:30 a.m., when he received the news of Benedict’s death via a phone call from Gaenswein. On Saturday, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni confirmed that Francis had spent a significant amount of time in Benedict’s monastery before returning to his hotel across the Vatican Gardens.
Francis wished his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, a safe journey to paradise during his New Year’s Day speech on Sunday, and thanked him for his many years of devotion to the Catholic Church.
Francis took time out of reading his sermon for Benedict during the morning Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica to pray aloud. The Pope Emeritus said, “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,” Beginning on Monday, Benedict’s casket will lie in state at the basilica for three days.
Interior Ministry official and Rome prefect Bruno Frattasi estimated that 25,000 to 30,000 people will file past the casket on Monday, as reported by Italian state television.
A burgundy bier marked Benedict’s final resting place in the chapel of the monastery where he had spent his nearly decade-long retirement on Sunday. He wore the traditional bishop’s mitre on his head and a scarlet cloak-like vestment.
There was a rosary in his hand. Images provided by the Vatican show the altar and a Christmas tree in the chapel behind him.
Later on Sunday, while speaking to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square, Francis once again referred to Benedict. As he addressed the gathering, he said, “in these hours, we invoke her intercession, in particular for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who, yesterday morning, left this world.”
Francis addressed the crowd below him from a window at the Apostolic Palace, saying, “Let us unite all together, with one heart and one soul, in giving thanks to God for the gift of this faithful servant of the Gospel and of the church,”
On Thursday morning, Francis will preside over Benedict’s funeral in the square. The Vatican has announced that the service will be a modest one, as was Benedict’s request. For several years before his election as pope in 2005, Benedict served as the Church’s custodian of doctrinal truth as a German cardinal.
Francis has made it apparent in recent years that he would contemplate following in Benedict’s footsteps and resigning as pope, a move that was met with widespread shock and applause at the time but is now widely seen as a viable alternative.
Francis, 86, who has been hampered by knee discomfort, arrived in a wheelchair to the basilica on Sunday and sat in a chair during the Mass, which was celebrated by the Vatican’s secretary of state.
Francis, who has long spoken out against the destruction of the Ukrainian conflict, thought of people who will spend the winter solstice in the midst of a battle.