(CNN) -- Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, a long-time Italian politician who served as the European nation's president for much of the 1990s, has died, the Italian government announced Sunday.
He was 93.
Italy's current president, Giorgio Napolitano, fondly recalled Scalfaro's time as a member of parliament, interior minister and eventually president.
"Scalfaro has been a leading figure of the democratic political life in the various decades of the republic, a perfect example of coherence and moral integrity," Napolitano said in a statement.
Prime Minister Mario Monti lauded Scalfaro for having "consistently defended the fundamental values of the republic, set out in the constitution."
"He has been a distinguished protagonist of ... Italian political and institutional life and (a) luminous example of perfect consistency and integrity," Monti said in a statement.
Pope Benedict XVI described Scalfaro as "an illustrious Catholic statesman," according to a news release on the Vatican's website. In condolences sent to Scalfaro's daughter, he said the former Italian president "did his best to promote the common good and the perennial ethical and religious values, that is proper to Italy's historical and civic tradition."
Joining Italy's legislature in 1946, soon after the end of World War II, Scalfaro served as minister and secretary on multiple occasions. In 1992, he became the parliamentary speaker -- then, a month later, he became president.
Scalfaro remained in that post for a seven-year term. He served in a time of political instability in Italy, facing regular calls for new elections and working with several prime ministers, including Giuliano Amato, Romano Prodi and Silvio Berlusconi -- all of whom ended up serving additional terms later.
In 1999, Scalfaro handed over the reins as president to Carlo Ciampi.