Serbia’s leading religious figure has died after contracting coronavirus, the country’s president has confirmed.
Patriarch Irinej, the 90-year-old head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, tested positive earlier this month after attending a large public funeral for a bishop who also died of Covid 19.
“I was honored to know you. People like you never depart,” said President Aleksandar Vucic on Instagram.
Patriarch Irinej was a conservative who also wielded major political influence.
He was intubated after his condition deteriorated on Thursday, two weeks after he was first admitted to hospital. His death was announced on Friday.
On 1 November, Patriarch Irinej led the funeral of the church’s most senior cleric in Montenegro, 82-year-old Amfilohije Radovic.
Thousands of mourners gathered at the event, without masks it social distancing. Many kissed the bishop’s body as it lay in an open coffin.
This was done despite a major spike in coronavirus cases in both Serbia and Montenegro, and a warning from the authorities that the event posed risk to public health.
More than 104, 000 people have tested positive and 1, 110 have died in Serbia since the pandemic began.