Lifestyle & Belief

Ex-Pope Benedict: God told me to resign


Former Pope, Benedict XVI.


Alberto Pizzoli

Former Pope Benedict XVI says God told him to resign the papacy in what he calls a "mystical experience," Catholic news agency Zenit reported.

"God told me" to step down, the pope emeritus was quoted as telling a visitor in the convent in the Vatican gardens where he's living out his retirement.

More from GlobalPost: Pope Benedict XVI: I'm resigning for the good of the Church

Benedict shocked the world when he announced his retirement Feb. 11, becoming the first pope to step down in nearly 600 years.

Rumors of a serious illness were quickly denied by the Vatican, as was speculation that Benedict quit over various scandals that blighted his eight-year reign.

At age 86, Benedict simply said he was too tired mentally and physically to continue.

More from GlobalPost: Pope Benedict XVI bids farewell (PHOTOS)

He was succeeded by Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, who has made waves with his simple, humble style and untraditional words and actions.

Benedict told his visitor that the more he observes Pope Francis, the more he realizes the choice was "wanted by God."

The former pope spent last Sunday at the papal summer retreat known as Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.