Senior clergy and Serbian officials entombed Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej in the crypt of the Church of St. Sava in Belgrade on November 22, two days after the 90-year-old church leader died battling COVID-19.
And while the church appealed for the public to respect ongoing anti-contagion measures amid the raging pandemic, there were some among the hundreds in attendance for the formal ceremony who did not wear masks, risky rites went ahead, and many in the crowd failed to physically distance.
Irinej, a staunch conservative with considerable political sway in the country and region, had led the church for a decade.
He tested positive for a coronavirus infection days after presiding over a funeral service attended by thousands for the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church's arm in Montenegro, Metropolitan Amfilohije, who died in late October at age 82 after falling ill with COVID-19.
Serbian authorities had vowed that crowd-control measures would be implemented to handle the throng of expected mourners in and around the Balkans' biggest temple for Irinej's entombment.
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