Heartbroken parents of Alfie Evans say their son has died

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"My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 02:30", his father, Thomas Evans, shared on Facebook early Saturday morning.

Alfie's case, represented by the U.K. -based Christian Legal Centre, has become a subject of fierce concern for many Christian activists in Britain and drew the attention of conservative media and activists in the United States.

Doctors had removed Alfie's life-support following a High Court judge's ruling on Monday but he continued to live. "God bless you Alfie my love is with you all", wrote follower Gail Compton.

Her fate is thus a case study in why a decent society allows families leeway to defy medical consensus: not only for the sake of parental rights and religious beliefs, not only because biases around race and class and faith creep into medical decision-making, but also because in hard cases the official medical consensus often doesn't come close to grasping all the possibilities, and letting people go their own way is often the only way to discover where it's wrong.

Explaining the decision to discontinue treatment, Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health undersigned a statement issued by the institution.

The group released purple and blue balloons to honor the toddler's life.

Viner added that, in general, withdrawing life-sustaining treatment may be decided upon if treatment is "unable or unlikely to result in the child living much longer" or "where treatment may prolong life but will cause the child unacceptable pain and suffering". On Wednesday, his parents lost their final court battle.

If an agreement can not be reached between the parents and doctors, "a court should be asked to make a declaration about whether the provision of life-sustaining treatment would benefit the child".

Pope Francis took to Twitter and wrote,"I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie".

Alfie died in the early hours of Saturday, his parents said.

"Our baby boy grew his wings tonight. Thank you everyone for all your support", his mother Kate James wrote.

A statement released by Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool read "All of us feel deeply for Alfie, Kate, Tom and his whole family and our thoughts are with them".

Hundreds of heartbroken supporters gathered to pay tribute to Alfie Evans, the "warrior" toddler who passed away today.

This has been a devastating journey for them and we would ask that their privacy and the privacy of staff at Alder Hey is respected.