(Reuters) - The leader of the Mormon church, Thomas Monson, has died at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah, the church said on Wednesday. He was 90.
Monson became the 16th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the religion is officially known, in 2008. As its leader, members of the faith considered him a prophet who received divine revelations.
The church said in a statement on its website that Monson died late on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump said in a statement that he and First Lady Melania Trump were “deeply saddened” by Monson’s death.
“While serving for over half a century in the leadership of his church, President Monson demonstrated wisdom, inspired leadership, and great compassion,” the statement said.
Mormons worship Jesus, believing in a “restored” church, with living apostles and prophets. They believe in the Bible and a book of scripture called the Book of Mormon.
The church, formally organised in 1830 in Upstate New York, has 15.9 million members worldwide, according to its website. They include the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
“President Monson had all the hallmarks of an unassuming servant of the Lord,” the church said in the statement.
In May 2015, the LDS Church said Monson was “feeling the effects of advancing age,” according to reports from the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper, and began cutting back public appearances and addresses.
Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Monson was appointed in 1963 to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the church’s second-highest governing body after the three-man First Presidency.
Upon death, a Mormon president is succeeded by the head of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a post currently held by the 93-year-old Russell Nelson.
Monson’s predecessor Gordon Hinckley died at 97 in 2007.
The church said on its website that Monson also had a “broad business background” and led a successful career in the publishing industry.
“Do something for someone else on that day to make his or her life better. Find someone who is having a hard time, or is ill, or lonely, and do something for them. That’s all I would ask,” he said during an interview on his 81st birthday, according to the church.
Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Bernadette Baum