Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi tweeted lyrics from one of the rock legend's biggest hits

A Vatican official paid tribute to David Bowie, the British rock star who has died at the age of 69 from cancer.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, tweeted lyrics from the singer’s 1969 hit Space Oddity.

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, also paid tribute to Bowie.

According to CruxNow, in an editorial entitled “Bowie: Never banal”, the paper said: “One might even say that, beyond the apparent excesses, the legacy of David Bowie… is enclosed in its own sort of personal sobriety, expressed even in the lean physique, almost threadlike.”

It also described his song Heroes as “a real gem”.

Bowie’s death was announced by his son, film director Duncan Jones, via a statement released on social media on Sunday.

“David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer,” it said.

“While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.”

Prime Minister David Cameron was among many who paid tribute to the star.

“I grew up listening to and watching the pop genius David Bowie. He was a master of re-invention, who kept getting it right. A huge loss,” he said.