Benedict XVI holds his final general audience, Feb. 27, 2013. Mazur/www.thepapalvisit.org.uk via CN
By Zelda Caldwell, Courtney Mares
CNA via CBCP News
The last words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he lay on his deathbed were “Lord, I love you!” according to the late pope’s longtime personal secretary Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Vatican News reported.
At about 3 a.m. on Dec. 31, a few hours before he died, Benedict was alone with a nurse who did not speak German, Vatican News reported. At that time Gänswein and others who were taking turns staying with the pope emeritus had left the room for a moment.
Gänswein recounted that Benedict XVI “in a soft but clearly distinguishable voice said in Italian, ‘Lord, I love you!’”
Gänswein said: “I was not there at the time, but the nurse told me shortly afterwards. Those were his last comprehensible words because after that he was no longer able to express himself.”
The pope emeritus’ death was announced in Rome on Dec. 31. His solemn funeral Mass will be on Thursday, Jan. 5, at 9:30 a.m. Rome time in St. Peter’s Square, with Pope Francis presiding. Benedict XVI will be buried in the Vatican crypt following the funeral.
“In accordance with the wish of the pope emeritus, the funeral will be carried out under the sign of simplicity,” the Vatican press office director, Matteo Bruni, said. Bruni told journalists in a news briefing Dec. 31 that Benedict received the sacrament of anointing of the sick on Dec. 28.
Benedict XVI’s body will lie in state in St. Peter’s Basilica beginning on Monday, Jan. 2.