Ex Pope Benedict, 93, 'seriously ill with shingles' seven years after retiring over 'lack of strength of mind and body’

EX-POPE Benedict XVI is reportedly seriously ill with shingles after returning to the Vatican from a visit to Germany where he was visiting his dying brother.

Benedict, aged 93, is said to have become very frail and his voice is barely audible.

At a meeting with Seewald on Saturday, German-born Benedict was said to appear optimistic and has said he might pick up writing again if he regains his strength.

Benedict had been in his native Bavaria in June to pay his dying brother Georg Ratzinger a final visit.

Ratzinger, aged 96, died shortly afterwards.

The former pontiff, whose original name is Joseph Ratzinger, now lives in a small former monastery inside the Vatican.

It was Benedict's first trip outside Italy since 2013, the year he resigned the papacy, citing a "lack of strength of mind and body"connected to his old age.

What is Shingles

Shingles is an infection that causes a painful rash.

It can take up to four weeks for the rash to heal, in which time the skin may be painful.

The most common first signs of shingles are tingling or pains in patches of the skin along with headaches.

A rash can then appear, usually on the chest or stomach — but it can also appear on the face, eyes and genitals, according to the NHS website.

The shingles rash appears as red blotches on your skin, on one side of your body only.

A rash on both the left and right of your body is unlikely to be shingles.

The blotches become itchy blisters which ooze fluid. A few days later the blisters dry out and scab.

He has largely stayed out of the public eye since then.

Reformist Pope Francis replaced him when he stepped down.

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