Emeritus pope Benedict dies at age 95

Former pope Benedict XVI

 VATICAN CITY — Emeritus pope Benedict XVI died Saturday, the Vatican said. He was 95 and in 2013 became the first pope in 600 years to resign rather than die in office at the head of the Roman Catholic Church. 

 From Monday the former pontiff's body will be laid out in St Peter's Basilica so that the faithful can pay their last respects to the German theologian, the Vatican press office said. Pope Francis will preside over Benedict's funeral that will be held in St Peter's on Thursday Jan. 5.

  "With pain, I have to inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, died today at 9:34 a.m., on the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican," Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said. Benedict's death had been expected since Pope Francis on Wednesday told pilgrims that his predecessor on St. Peter's throne was "very sick." 

  Vatican protocol experts have been wrestling for days with how to deal with the death of a pope emeritus, a challenge that has not been facees in modern times in the tiny city state.