Skip to main content

Nelson Mandela still critical; bishop prays for leader's 'peaceful, perfect, end'

From Robyn Curnow and Brent Swails, CNN
updated 8:25 PM EDT, Tue June 25, 2013
Nelson Mandela, the prisoner-turned-president who reconciled South Africa after the end of apartheid, died on Thursday, December 5, according to the country's president, Jacob Zuma. Mandela was 95. Nelson Mandela, the prisoner-turned-president who reconciled South Africa after the end of apartheid, died on Thursday, December 5, according to the country's president, Jacob Zuma. Mandela was 95.
HIDE CAPTION
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Cape Town's archbishop leads Mandela's family in prayer
  • Crowds of supporters and news crews stand outside the hospital
  • Nelson Mandela's family visits his bedside
  • Officials say Mandela's condition worsened over the weekend

Pretoria, South Africa (CNN) -- Cape Town's archbishop led Nelson Mandela's family in prayer on Tuesday, calling for "a quiet night and a peaceful, perfect, end" for the former South African president.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba prayed with Mandela's family at the Pretoria hospital where the anti-apartheid icon remains in critical condition, the South African Press Association reported.

"Fill them with your holy courage and the gift of trusting faith, and take away their fears so that they may dare to face their grief," he said, according to a copy of the prayer posted on the bishop's website.

"Guide the medical staff so that they may know how to use their skills wisely and well, in caring for Madiba and keeping him comfortable," Makgoba said, using Mandela's traditional clan name. "And uphold all of us with your steadfast love so that we may be filled with gratitude for all the good that he has done for us and for our nation, and may honor his legacy through our lives."

Dozens gather to pray for Nelson Mandela
Daughter: He is at peace
Mandela relatives lay claim
The whole world prays for one man

As night fell, well-wishers outside the Pretoria hospital where Mandela lay chanted his name, hung signs of support on bulletin boards and left flowers.

"We wish him well. We are calling on the world to unite and pray for Madiba," said 24-year-old Innocentia Moselane. "He is our icon, and we love him."

During his 27 years behind bars for fighting apartheid, Mandela became a rallying symbol for those fighting South Africa's white-minority rule at home and abroad. His release in 1990 was the beginning of the end of apartheid, the system of legalized racial segregation the South African government enforced for more than 45 years.

"He is our hero. He is my mentor, my father. He is everything to me," 36-year-old Kuda Nyahumzvi told CNN outside the hospital. "But when it is his time, we wish his soul could just rest. He spent so long in jail and struggling."

While crowds of supporters appeared to have gone home by early Wednesday morning, the South African Press Association reported, scores of journalists remained outside the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria.

Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, spends every night at the hospital, where the former president has been since June 8 for a recurring lung infection. Previously, authorities had described his condition as serious but stable.

But over the weekend, his health took a turn for the worse, with the South African president's office saying he was in critical condition.

"The doctors are doing everything possible to ensure his well-being and comfort," President Jacob Zuma told the nation Monday.

When the country held its first multiracial elections in 1994, Mandela became the South Africa's first black president. He stepped down in 1999 after serving a single term.

Though he continued to be a voice on the world stage for developing nations, human rights and the fight against AIDS after leaving office, Mandela, 94, has been sidelined by advancing age and bouts of illness in recent years.

He last appeared in public in 2010.

Journalist Hamilton Wende and CNN's Matt Smith and Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:28 PM EST, Sun December 15, 2013
Candles are lit under a portrait of Neslon Mandela before the funeral ceremony of South African former president Nelson Mandela in Qunu on December 15, 2013.
As 95 candles glowed in the background, mourners gathered for Nelson Mandela's state funeral Sunday.
updated 6:36 AM EST, Sun December 15, 2013
One candle burns for each year of Nelson Mandela's life, as family, friends, dignitaries and celebrities gather in his ancestral home, Qunu.
updated 5:36 AM EST, Sun December 15, 2013
CNN's Robyn Curnow is inside the Mandela family compound in Qunu as the state funeral service is ongoing.
updated 11:29 PM EST, Sat December 14, 2013
Don't expect the man who fought to end apartheid and then led South Africa as its first black president to spend eternity pushing up just daisies.
updated 10:50 PM EST, Sat December 14, 2013
Not only is Nelson Mandela the former president of South Africa, but he is also a father, grandfather and even a great-grandfather.
updated 11:13 PM EST, Sat December 14, 2013
Nelson Mandela once said his wife, Graca Machel, makes him "bloom like a flower."
updated 3:49 AM EST, Sun December 15, 2013
South African pays tribute and thanks Nelson Mandela at the former leader's funeral in Qunu.
updated 3:45 AM EST, Sun December 15, 2013
South African President Jacob Zuma sings at the funeral of Nelson Mandela.
updated 2:25 AM EST, Sun December 15, 2013
Anti-apartheid veteran Ahmed Kathrada spent 26 years imprisoned with his close friend and confidant Nelson Mandela.
updated 11:08 PM EST, Sat December 14, 2013
The coffin carrying Nelson Mandela's body arrived Saturday in his ancestral village of Qunu, where he'll be buried.
updated 4:28 PM EST, Sat December 14, 2013
Crowds gather as Nelson Mandela's funeral convoy arrives at Mthatha Airport in South Africa's Eastern Cape.
updated 2:32 PM EST, Fri December 13, 2013
Beloved icon Nelson Mandela will be laid to rest on the farm where he grew up. CNN's Robyn Curnow gives an inside look.
updated 11:44 AM EST, Fri December 13, 2013
It might be timely to put aside out-of-date and ill-informed views of Africa, and see it the way Africans seem to: With a high level of optimism.
updated 11:40 PM EST, Thu December 5, 2013
Mandela emerged from prison to lead his country out of racist apartheid rule with a message of reconciliation that inspired the world.
updated 11:32 AM EST, Fri December 6, 2013
The late South African President reflects on his imprisonment and his fight against apartheid.
updated 9:57 AM EST, Tue December 10, 2013
Nelson Mandela, hailed for leading South Africa out of apartheid, wanted to be remembered as part of a collective and not in isolation.
updated 1:03 PM EST, Fri December 6, 2013
Nelson Mandela
From revolutionary to revered statesman, Nelson Mandela left his inspirational mark on the world.
updated 6:24 PM EST, Thu December 5, 2013
The only known footage of Nelson Mandela while at Robben Prison shows inside his cell and the former president in 1977.
updated 12:45 PM EST, Fri December 6, 2013
Mandela spent almost three decades in jail. But he had two Indian goddesses and a 17th century playwright for company.
updated 7:52 AM EST, Fri December 6, 2013
He was loved and admired the world over, profiled in books and movies. But even he has little-known facts buried in his biographies.
updated 6:00 PM EST, Thu December 5, 2013
A file photo showing South African Nelson Mandela taking the presidential oath on May 10, 1994 during his inauguration at the Union Building in Pretoria.
April 27, 1994, was the crowning moment in Nelson Mandela's life -- the day South Africa held its first elections open to citizens of every race.
From a village birth, to political activism, to prison and emergence as a worldwide leader.
updated 6:40 PM EST, Thu December 5, 2013
"No one is born hating another person ..." and more from Nelson Mandela in his own words
updated 8:47 AM EST, Fri December 6, 2013
South African former President Nelson Mandela holds the Jules Rimet World cup, 15 May 2004 at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich.
"Sport has the power to change the world," Nelson Mandela once said -- and eloquently supported his claim.
updated 9:48 PM EDT, Wed June 26, 2013
Browse through intimate images of Nelson Mandela, including the earliest known photograph believed to be taken in 1938.
updated 8:26 AM EST, Fri December 6, 2013
The Special AKA's "Free Nelson Mandela" became anti-apartheid anthem, and led to Mandela's release from prison after 27 years.
How will you remember Mandela? Send us your stories, memories and photographs.
ADVERTISEMENT