No anti-epidemic measures at liturgy for late Serbian Orthodox Church head

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Source: Tanjug/Rade Prelić

The body of the late Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Irinej was brought to the St. Michael Church in Belgrade on Saturday where the St. Michael's Day liturgy was also held and despite the SPC announced that all prescribed anti-coronavirus measures would be respected during the ceremony, some of the many citizens present did not wear masks, social distancing was not in place and some kissed the coffin of the religious leader.

The SPC Patriarch, Irinej, died due to COVID-19-related complications at a military hospital in Belgrade early on Friday.

Members of the Serbian Army Guard brought the coffin to the temple on Saturday.

The SPC said that the ceremony would be organised according to the measures recommended by the coronavirus Crisis Team.

However, despite the warnings, a large number of citizens gathered without maintaining social distance and some did not even wear masks. The coffin with the body of the patriarch was open, with a glass cover which those present kissed.

According to video footage, the people at the St. Michael's Day ceremony, the second-largest saint's day as a family holiday celebrated in Serbia and the Church's patron, also used the same spoon during the Holy Communion.

Following the ceremony, the body of Irinej was transported to the Temple of Saint Sava where he will be buried on Sunday.

As opposed to the previous gathering at the St. Michael's Church, the faithful at St. Sava Temple adhered to the calls of the Serbian Orthodox Church so there was only a small number of them inside and they left immediately after the ceremony.