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The last words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

According to our Vatican’s correspondent, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s last words were, “Lord, I love you.”

On New Year’s Eve, shortly before his death, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein quoted a nurse hearing the words who was caring for the 95-year-old pope.

Gaenswein recalled Benedict making the short statement at about 3 a.m. before he died later that morning.

“Benedict XVI said, in Italian, ‘Lord, I love you,’” Gaenswein told the Vatican’s official media Sunday.

“I wasn’t there at the time, but the nurse recounted it later.

Afterward, he was unable to express himself anymore, so those were his last comprehensible words.”

German prelate Gaenswein lived in the Vatican monastery where Benedict resided after he retired in 2013.

Pope Francis paid his respects shortly after Gaenswein informed him Benedict had died shortly after 9:30 a.m., according to the Vatican.

Pope Francis prayed for Benedict’s passage to heaven and thanked him for his eight-year tenure as head of the Catholic Church.

We entrust our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to our Blessed Mother today, so that she may accompany him on his journey from this world to God.

No less than 25,000 to 30,000 mourners will be expected to view Benedict’s coffin starting Monday, Rome Prefect Bruno Frattasi, an Interior Ministry official, told Italian state television.

His body lay on a burgundy-colored bier at the monastery where he lived in retirement.

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