Vatican secret: Pope fitted with pacemaker "some time ago"

updated at 07h51
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Pope Benedict had a heart pacemaker installed some time ago but was not suffering from poor health and remained lucid and serene in the wake of his decision to resign, the Vatican spokesman said on Tuesday.

 Photo:  Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI leaves at the end of a mass at the St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican February 9, 2013.
Photo: Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters

It had not been generally known that the 85-year-old pope had been fitted with a pacemaker.

Father Federico Lombardi said the batteries on the appliance were replaced three months ago in a minor, routine intervention but that had played no part in persuading the pontiff to take the shock decision to step down.

"It had no influence on the decision, the reasons were in his perception that his strength had diminished with advancing age," Lombardi told a press briefing at the Vatican .

Reuters Terra

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