Former Pope Benedict XVI passes away at 95

Pope Benedict XVI finishes his last general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican on February 27, 2013.Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters

The Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has died at the age of 95.

The former pope passed away at his residence in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery inside the Vatican on Saturday morning. 

"With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 AM in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican," said Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office.

His death followed a rapid deterioration in his health condition.

The Holy See Press Office did not give specific details except to say that the decline was due to advancing age.

The news was shared this week by his successor, Pope Francis, during his General Audience on Wednesday when he asked the faithful for a "special prayer" for Benedict because he was "very ill".

The Catholic faithful around the world had spent the last few days praying for Benedict, who in 2013 became the first pope in over 600 years to resign. 

He had lived in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery since his resignation and was visited there by Pope Francis after his General Audience on Wednesday.

The body of the Pope Emeritus will lie in Saint Peter's Basilica from Monday morning so that the faithful can bid farewell. 

Details of his funeral will be announced later.