The following text was updated on 29 December to reflect a new statement from the Vatican.
The day after Pope Francis told people retired Pope Benedict was “very sick” and in need of prayers, the Vatican said he had had a restful night and described him as being in serious, but stable condition.
In a statement to reporters the next day, Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, said the retired pope had rested well overnight and “is absolutely lucid and alert.”
“Although his condition remains serious,” Bruni said, as of midday 29 December he was stable.
“Pope Francis renews his invitation to pray for him and accompany him in these difficult hours,” Bruni added.
Saying that retired Pope Benedict XVI was “very sick,” Pope Francis asked people to offer special prayers for him.
“I would like to ask all of you for a special prayer for emeritus Pope Benedict,” Pope Francis said at the end of his weekly general audience 28 December.
The 95-year-old retired pope “is sustaining the church in silence,” Pope Francis said. “Remember him. He is very sick.”
“Ask the Lord to console him and sustain him in his witness of love for the church until the very end,” Pope Francis said.
Bruni told reporters that Pope Francis went to Pope Benedict’s residence after the audience to visit him.
“I can confirm that in the last few hours there has been a worsening (of Pope Benedict’s health) due to advancing age,” Bruni said. “The situation at the moment remains under control, constantly followed by doctors.”
On 11 February 2013, Pope Benedict announced that he would retire effective 28 February that year. He spent the first several months of his retirement at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo before moving into the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican Gardens where he has lived since.
The retired pope has looked increasingly frail, but as recently as 1 December the foundation that promotes his theological work released photos of him meeting with the two winners of the Ratzinger Prize. He also met in August at the monastery with Pope Francis and the new cardinals the pope had just created.