Patriarch Irinej, 90, was hospitalised in Belgrade with COVID-19 symptoms earlier this month.
He had been one of thousands of mourners, most without masks, who gathered at the funeral of Bishop Amfilohije, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, on November 1. Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic was also in attendance. The large funeral was held in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, in violation of measures in place to stop the spread of coronavirus in the small Adriatic state. Patriarch Irinej, 90, was the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church. He has died from coronavirus just days after leading the open-casket funeral of the head of the church in Montenegro who was also killed by Covid-19.It turned out to be a major coronavirus-spreading event, with several high ranking church officials and others who were there later testing positive. Photos show mourners kissing the corpse of the dead bishop and Patriarch Irinej sitting a short distance away from the coffin.
In the aftermath of the funeral, Serbian priests have been appealing to their parishioners to take the virus seriously. Many had previously downplayed the threat of the global pandemic. The country of 6.9million recorded 6,109 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing its total to more than 104,000. Some 1,110 people have died in the country from Covid-19. Following the news of Irinej’s death, President Vucic paid tribute to the man who often criticised Western policies towards Serbia and urged close relations with Slavic ally Russia.
‘It was an honour to have known you,’ Vucic posted on Instagram alongside a black and white photo of the patriarch. ‘People like you are never gone.’
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