Pope Francis on Friday paid tribute to anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela for "forging a new South Africa" and said he hoped his example would inspire the nation to strive for "justice and the common good".
Francis praised the "steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation's citizens and in forging a new South Africa," in a message to President Jacob Zuma.
"I pray that the late president's example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations," the leader of the world's Catholics wrote.
"It was with sadness that I learned of the death... and I send prayerful condolences to all the Mandela family, to the members of the government and to all the people of South Africa," the pope said.
"I ask the Lord to console and strengthen all who mourn his loss."