In a message sent the same day to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the wife of Néstor, and current president of the country, the Pope said he raised "fervent prayers to God for his eternal rest."

Cristina was at the side of her husband when he died in the southern province of Santa Cruz, where the two were visiting during a national holiday.

The Pontiff also expressed "deep sentiments of sorrow for you, your children and for the rest of the family of the deceased dignitary, as well as for the government and for the people of this beloved nation of Argentina."

The text of the Pope's message was published today by the Argentine Episcopal Conference.