Apostolic Nuncio Pietro Sambi dies — UPDATED

Rocco broke the news late yesterday, and notes that it’s the first time a papal legate to the U.S. has died in office:

Pope Benedict’s representative to these shores since 2006 — and tipped to be in line for a Vatican post just a few weeks back — Sambi turned 73 in late June.

As previously reported here, the veteran diplomat — a beloved figure in chancery and embassy circles alike — had been in grave condition at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore following a radical procedure early this month that involved the removal of half of one of his lungs. Having been kept sedated and on a ventilator since complications arose in the surgery’s wake, a decision on continuing the archbishop’s treatment had been expected before the end of the week.

In his final hours, the Nuncio’s sister, niece and nephew were said to be at his bedside after having been called over from Italy last week. The niece on hand was married by Sambi in his last trip to his beloved hometown of Rimini in mid-June.

There’s much more over at Whispers.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…

UPDATE: A statement from Archbishop Timothy Dolan, President of the USCCB, notes:

“Archbishop Sambi understood and loved our nation. He traveled throughout the country, often to attend the ordination of bishops, always eager to meet the faithful, and to share with them the affection that the Holy Father has for them and their country.”