The former Pope's personal secretary said the rumours were 'false and wrong'

Archbishop Georg Ganswein has rejected rumours Benedict XVI is close to death.

The former Pontiff’s personal secretary said a quote circulating on social media, attributed to Archbishop Ganswein, is a “pure invention”.

The quote reads: “Pope Benedict is like a candle that fades slowly. He is serene, at peace with God, with himself and the world. He can no longer walk without help and can no longer celebrate Mass.”

However, the archbishop hit out at the rumour, saying: “It is false and wrong! I would like to know who the author of this is.”

“I have received in the last two days many messages that refer to this phrase, and people are worried,” he added.

The former Pope’s brother, Fr Georg Ratzinger, paid him a visit last week, Archbishop Ganswein confirmed. “Both had a good time,” he said.