Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI spoke four words just before his death, according to his personal secretary.

The former pope’s personal secretary Archbishop Georg Gänswein told Vatican News that a nurse heard him speak the words, “Lord, I love you!” in Italian at approximately 3 a.m. on Dec. 31.

Abp. Gänswein said Benedict XVI said these words “in a soft but clearly distinguishable voice.” However, he was not in the room when the Pope Emeritus spoke.

“I was not there at the time, but the nurse told me shortly afterwards,” he said. “Those were his last comprehensible words, because after that, he was no longer able to express himself.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Final Hours

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died at 9:34 a.m. Rome time on Dec. 31, 2022 at his residence in Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, where he lived since his 2013 resignation.

Abp. Gänswein said he normally prayed Lauds with the former pope near his bedside. However, at 8 a.m. on Dec. 31, the Pope Emeritus could not pray aloud.

“We fear that now the moment will come when he will have to have his last fight on earth,” the doctor told the archbishop.

At that point, Abp. Gänswein said “it had reached agony” and the Pope Emeritus could not breathe well.

Everyone in his room then prayed in silence until the former pope took his last breath. They concluded with “Alma Redemptoris Mater,” and the archbishop called Pope Francis.

Abp. Gänswein added that the Pope Emeritus died during his favorite liturgical season – the Christmas Octave–as well as on the feast of one of his predecessors, St. Sylvester.

Pope Francis will preside over Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s funeral on Jan. 5, 2023 at 9:30 a.m. Central European Time (CET) in St. Peter’s Square. He will be buried in the crypt underneath St. Peter’s Basilica.

Click here to watch the live coverage on EWTN.

Eternal Rest, grant unto Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul rest in peace. Amen.

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[See also: “Stand Firm in Faith!”: Read Benedict XVI’s Final Spiritual Testament to the Church]

[See also: See the First Images of Benedict XVI Released by Vatican After His Death]

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