People were surprised and saddened when they heard the news, but not entirely shocked, because the situation had been obviously deteriorating for a long time.
The faithful are gathering to keep solemn vigil, hoping against hope for a miraculous recovery, but resigned to the inevitable fate.
Although the exact details have not been reported, it is clear that all hope has passed, marking the end of a long and eventful reign.
Preparations are underway now for an election of what may prove to be a quite different successor.
But that's enough about the Gomery inquiry rumours.