President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins paid tribute to former Pope Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday morning at the age of 95. 

The German Pope Emeritus passed away early on Saturday morning, the Vatican said in a statement. 

"With sorrow I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican," spokesperson Matteo Bruni said in a statement. 

Benedict, whose birth name is Joseph Ratzinger, had been living a quiet life in a convent inside the Vatican since his shock decision to resign as Pope in early 2013, becoming the first pontiff in more than 600 years to step down. 

Benedict's health was said to have been declining for some time, but the Vatican announced on Wednesday that his situation had worsened, while his successor Pope Francis asked for Catholics around the world to pray for him. 

As a former head of state, Benedict will lie in state at St. Peter's Basilica to allow foreign dignitaries to pay their respects, while Pope Francis will preside over his predecessor's funeral mass in St. Peter's. 

As per his request, Benedict will be buried in a crypt beneath St. Peter's in a spot previously occupied by Pope John Paul II, whose remains were reinterred following his beatification in 2011. 

President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins said in a statement that Pope Benedict will be remembered for his "untiring efforts to find a common path in promoting peace and goodwill throughout the world". 

"He will be remembered too for the value he attached to intellectual work and for the personal commitment he gave to such within the Roman Catholic Church, this work being respected by both supporters and critics," Higgins said in a statement. 

The Church of Ireland's Archbishops paid tribute to Pope Benedict on Saturday and offered their condolences to Archbishop Eamon Martin, the Primate of the Catholic Church in Ireland. 

Archbishop John McDowell, the Primate of All Ireland, remembered an "unforgettable experience" when Pope Benedict met with the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in 2010. 

"During his visit to the United Kingdom in 2010, Pope Benedict used the occasion of his meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to focus on the subject of ecumenism in the context of both greater secularism in wider society and the increasingly multi-faith pattern of belief," Archbishop McDowell said in a statement. 

"For those of us who were present on that occasion in Westminster Abbey, we were fortunate indeed to listen to two European intellectuals and people of deep faith in conversation about the future of European Christianity. It was an unforgettable and encouraging experience." 

Church of Ireland Archbishop Michael Jackson also paid tribute to Benedict, stating that he "contributed to the life and understanding of the Christian Church in a very wide range of ways". 

"Different people will remember this extraordinary personal contribution from many different perspectives and in many different contexts," Archbishop Jackson said. 

"His gift of scholarship was one which he shared throughout his pontificate and after his retirement. Clarity of writing was a special charism and he opened up for a new generation the person of Jesus Christ."