Catholic faithful from across the UK will pray for Pope Benedict XVI at mass services on the Sunday after his death at the age of 95.
It comes after the Vatican announced that Benedict XVI, the first pope in 600 years to resign, died at the Mater Ecclesia Monastery in the Vatican at 9:34 a.m. Saturday.
The King expressed his “deep sadness” over Benedict’s death in a message to his successor Pope Francis, while the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby They also paid tribute.
Francis and a host of world leaders also honored his legacy, with US President Joe Biden calling him an “inspiration to all” and “a renowned theologian, with a lifetime of devotion to the Church, guided by his principles and faith”.
A spokesman for the Conference of Catholic Bishops of England and Wales confirmed that Catholics across the UK will pray for Benedict on Sunday.
Its general secretary, the Rev. Canon Chris Thomas, said: “We encourage Catholics in England and Wales to keep Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in their prayers.”
Benedict became the second pontiff in history to visit the UK in 2010 when he met the Queen and made a historic speech at Westminster Hall.
His funeral will take place on Thursday at 8:30am UK time in St Peter’s Square, Vatican City, presided over by Francis, who succeeded Benedict as Pope in 2013.
Starting Monday, his body will be in St. Peter’s Basilica so that the faithful can pay their respects.
Speaking on Saturday, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said he wants Catholic churches in the UK to “echo the funeral mass” with their own ceremonies on Thursday.
Offering words of comfort to UK Catholics, he added: “We draw strength and comfort from our faith when someone dies and when it’s the Pope who dies, it’s the same story, it’s the same prayers.
“We entrust them to God and we thank God for the great gifts of his life and especially his life.”
He added: “I was comforted by a comment I heard someone had made in Rome a couple of days ago, where they put it quite beautifully: they said, ‘The angels are gathering, they’re coming to take you home.’ ”
In a statement, Charles paid tribute to Benedict and recalled visiting him at the Vatican in 2009.
He said: “I fondly remember meeting His Holiness during my visit to the Vatican in 2009. His visit to the UK in 2010 was important in strengthening relations between the Holy See and the UK.
“I also remember your constant efforts to promote peace and goodwill among all people, and to strengthen the relationship between the worldwide Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church.”
Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope number 265 on April 19, 2005, at the age of 78, and chose the name Benedict.
He served until February 2013 before becoming the first pope in 600 years to resign, citing old age and declining health.
Welby praised Benedict as “one of the greatest theologians of his age.”
In a statement, he said Benedict XVI was “committed to the faith of the Church and firm in its defense.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wrote on Twitter: “I am saddened to learn of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
“He was a great theologian whose visit to the UK in 2010 was a historic moment for both Catholics and non-Catholics across our country.”
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “His state visit in 2010 was a joyous and historic moment for Catholics in Britain.”