Head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej, has died after contracting coronavirus, at the age of 90.
“I was honoured to know you. People like you never depart,” President Aleksandar Vucic said on Instagram.
Patriarch Irinej was a conservative who also wielded major political influence.
He was put on a ventilator in a military hospital after his condition deteriorated on Thursday, two weeks after he was first admitted to hospital. His death was announced on today.
Patriarch Irinej was admitted to hospital on 4 November, three days after he officiated at the funeral of the Church’s most senior cleric in Montenegro, 82-year-old Metropolitan Bishop Amfilohije Radovic.
Thousands of mourners had gathered at the event without masks or maintaining social distancing. Many of those present kissed the bishop’s body as it lay in an open casket. Bishop Amfilohije had himself defied Covid regulations on public gatherings in Montenegro.
Irinej was born as Miroslav Gavrilović in Vidova near Čačak, Kingdom of Yugoslavia (now Serbia). After graduating from high school, he enrolled and completed the Serbian Orthodox Seminary of Prizren. He then enrolled at the University of Belgrade’s Theological Faculty and served in the army after graduating. After military service, he was tonsured a monk in 1959 in Rakovica Monastery, receiving the monastic name of Irinej. He was a professor at the Prizren Seminary, and completed postgraduate studies in Athens. In 1969, he was appointed a head of the monastic school at Ostrog Monastery. He later returned to Prizren, where he was appointed Rector of the Prizren Seminary in 1969,
He was the 45th Serbian Patriarch succeeding Patriarch Pavle.
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