Pope Francis on Wednesday asked for prayers for his 95-year-old predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who he said is “very sick.” 

At the end of his weekly general audience, Francis said in Italian: “I would like to ask all of you for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who, in silence, is sustaining the Church,” as translated by Reuters.

“Let us remember him. He is very sick, asking the Lord to console and sustain him in this witness of love for the Church, until the end,” Francis said.

In 2013, Benedict became the first pope to step down in 600 years. The Vatican did not immediately comment on the state of the former pontiff’s health. One of the most recent known pictures of Benedict was taken on Dec. 1, when he met with theologians who won a prize named after him. Benedict “was seated and looked exceptionally weak,” the wire service reported.

Benedict resigned nearly a decade ago citing a lack of physical and mental strength to run the Catholic Church. He has been living in a former Vatican convent with his secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, and several other staff members.

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