Former Pope Benedict XVI passes away at 95

He led the Catholic Church for fewer than eight years until, in 2013, he became the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.

Benedict spent his final years at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery within the walls of the Vatican where he passed away at 09:34 (08:34 GMT) on Saturday.

His successor Pope Francis will lead the funeral on 5 January.

The Vatican said the body of the Pope Emeritus will be placed in St Peter's Basilica from 2 January for "the greeting of the faithful".

Bells rang out from Munich cathedral and a single bell was heard ringing from St Peter's Square in Rome after the death was announced.

In his first public comments since news of Pope Benedict's death broke, Pope Francis called him a gift to the church, describing him as a noble and kind man.

At a New Year's Eve service at the Vatican he paid tribute to his "dearest" predecessor, emphasising "his sacrifices offered for the good of the church".