Former Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI remains “stable,” the Vatican said Thursday, after Pope Francis asked for prayers for his 95-year-old predecessor over ill health.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis—who became the head of the Catholic church in 2013 after former Pope Benedict resigned—tweeted asking for prayers for Benedict, calling on “the Lord to console him and to sustain him in this witness of love for the Church, until the end.”
Pope Francis said Pope Benedict is “very sick,” and Matteo Bruni, the director of the Holy See Press Office, said Benedict’s health was affected by an “aggravation” due to his “advancing age,” and that he was receiving care and monitoring from doctors.
On Thursday, Bruni said Pope Benedict rested well over the night and “is absolutely lucid and alert today, although his condition remains serious.”
Pope Francis, who visited Pope Benedict on Wednesday, renewed his calls for prayers for his predecessor.
Pope Benedict served as head of the church from 2005 to 2013, when he resigned from the role—becoming the first pope to do so since the 1400s. “Having before God examined my conscience over and over, I have come to the certain knowledge that my strength, due to the burdens of age, is no longer suitable for properly administering the Petrine office,” he said in a speech in Latin at the time.
Pope Francis, 86, was the subject of resignation rumors this summer which focused on his health. But in an interview with Reuters, the pontiff dismissed the speculation as “court gossip,” and called reports that he was suffering from cancer and canceling travel plans mere “coincidences.”