Pope Francis remembers his kind and 'noble' predecessor Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict has died aged 95.Reuters

Pope Francis has paid a moving tribute to his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday morning aged 95.

In his homily at the end of the year celebration of Vespers and the Te Deum, Pope Francis spoke of his "gratitude" for Benedict's years of faithful witness and commitment to the Church. 

He remembered his "dear" predecessor as a "noble" man of faith who was also "so kind".

"And speaking of kindness, at this moment, my thought naturally goes to dear Pope emeritus Benedict XVI who left us this morning," said Francis.

"We are moved as we recall him as such a noble person, so kind. And we feel such gratitude in our hearts: gratitude to God for having given him to the Church and to the world; gratitude to him for all the good he accomplished, and above all, for his witness of faith and prayer, especially in these last years of his recollected life."

Catholics around the world had been praying for the Pope Emeritus in his final days after a special request from Pope Francis at his General Audience on Wednesday.

Pope Francis then visited Benedict at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery inside the Vatican, where he had been living since his resignation in 2013. 

In his New Year's Eve homily, Pope Francis added, "Only God knows the value and the power of his intercession, of the sacrifices he offered for the good of the Church."