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How old was Pope Benedict XVI? Who have been the longest living Popes?

The 95-year-old who became known as Pope Emeritus has passed away on Saturday, having previously been forced to step down due to ill health.

Pope Benedict XVI, the longest-living Pope
i15 / Zuma Press / ContactoPhoto Europa Press

The Vatican confirmed on Saturday that Pope Benedict XVI, also known as Pope Emeritus, passed away at the age of 95. He had suffered from ailing health for many years, forcing him to resign from the role in 2013.

He became the first Pope in nearly 600 years to step down when he did so and gained the distinction of being the oldest living Pope in 2020, when he surpassed Pope Leo XVIII.

However while Leo remained in the role until his death at the age of 93, Benedict resigned as Pope at the age of 87. In short, no Pope has lived longer than Benedict, but Leo remains the oldest person to have held the position of Pope.

Despite stepping down due to ill health, Benedict was still able to spend the twilight of his life in the Vatican in quiet study and prayer. Although rarely seen alongside his successor, Pope Francis, in public, he is thought to have remained a key influence within the papacy.

Who are the other longest living Popes?

Pope Leo XIII remains the oldest Pope to remain in office and is now the second oldest-living Pope, after Benedict. In 1903, Leo died at the age of 93 years and 140 days and he was the third longest-serving pontificate in history.

He was the first Pope to have his voice recorded and to be filmed in motion picture. In fact, having been born in 1810, it is reported that he was the earliest born person to have been recorded in motion picture.

Behind Benedict and Leo, here are the other longest-living Popes in history:

Pope Clement XII - 87 years and 30 days

Pope Clement X - 86 years and 9 days

Pope Pius IX - 85 years and 270 days

Pope Innocent XII - 85 years and 107 days

Pope John Paul II – 84 years and 46 days

In general, the rule of Pope is a lifetime position that the incumbent holds until their death. Before Benedict decided to voluntarily step down in 2013, becoming the first to do so since Pope Gregory XII in 1405.

Gregory’s brief nine-year stint as the head of the Catholic Church was brought to an end by schisms within the institution, which he sought to resolve by stepping down.


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