Pope Francis revealed in an interview on Sunday that he signed his resignation letter for the first time almost 10 years ago due to illness.
Francis – who turns 86 on Saturday – has previously said he would resign as pope if health problems sidelined him.
Spanish newspaper ABC said the pope signed his letter of resignation and delivered it to Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone in 2013 before the cardinal retired.
“I signed the resignation and I told him, ‘Treatmentally. Disruption or anything, here is my resignation. You have it,” said the Pope.
When an interviewer asked if he wanted to know that truth, Francis replied, “That’s why I’m telling you.” He said he did not know what Bertone did with the letter.
Francis’ ability to walk is limited by an inoperable knee condition that has forced him to rely on a wheelchair in recent months.
The pain has forced the pope to cancel or curtail activities several times in the past year, and in an interview in July, he admitted he needed to slow down.
“At my age and with this limitation, I want to save myself a little so that I can serve the Church. Or, alternatively, consider stepping aside,” he said.