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Ailing Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI remains “lucid and conscious,” the Vatican said Thursday, as his successor, Pope Francis, again called for prayers to “accompany him in these difficult hours.”

Francis first revealed Wednesday that his 95-year-old predecessor was “very sick” as he called for prayers after visiting him.

In an update Thursday, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Benedict “managed to rest well last night” and “is absolutely lucid and conscious.”

While “his condition remains grave, the situation at the moment is stable,” Bruni said.

“Pope Francis renews the invitation to pray for him and accompany him in these difficult hours,” the Vatican spokesman said.

Benedict is being cared for in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery inside the Vatican, where he has been living since February 2013, when he became the first pope in about 600 years to resign instead of serving for life, citing health concerns.

Pope Francis with ex-pope Benedict in 2013.
Pope Francis again called for prayers for Benedict (whom he is seen greeting in 2013).
Abaca/Sipa USA

Francis visited him at his monastery Wednesday after giving his general audience, the Vatican said.

Bruni said Benedict’s health had “deteriorated in recent hours due to advancing age” and that he was being “constantly monitored by doctors.”

Responding to the call for prayers, the diocese of Rome scheduled a special Mass in honor of Benedict on Friday at St. John Lateran, Benedict’s former basilica in his capacity as the bishop of Rome.

Then-pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2008.
Benedict had cited health woes nearly 10 years ago when he became the the first pope in close to 600 years to resign.
ZUMAPRESS.com

News of his ill health also sparked an outpouring of support from religious leaders across the world, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan in New York.

“With great faith in God’s goodness, I join with Pope Francis in praying for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and ask the Catholic faithful of the Archdiocese of New York, and all people of good will go do the same,” Dolan said Wednesday.

With Post wires

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