Serbian Orthodox Church has elected Bishop Porfirije Peric as its 46th head.
The bells of Belgrade's St. Sava Temple rang as Serbian Orthodox Church officials gathered in the crypt to elect a new patriarch after the previous head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej, died in November 2020 due to COVID-19.
In a statement on Thursday, the church said the new patriarch was elected from three candidates in a secret ballot held with the participation of 36 bishops.
The Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana, Porfirije, 59, bagged most of the votes, becoming the 46th patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church.
The enthronement of the newly elected patriarch of Serbian porphyry will be held on Friday in the Cathedral Church in the capital Belgrade.
Porfirije was born in 1961 in Bece in the Vojvodina region of Serbia.
He graduated from the Faculty of Theology of the University of Belgrade and completed his master's and doctorate at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Athens.
Porfirije, who has undertaken different duties within the church, has served as the Metropolit of Zagreb Ljubljana since 2014.
The Serbian Orthodox Church has paid a heavy price for flouting restrictions amid the pandemic by losing prominent figures.
Thousands of people attended the funeral of Metropolitan Amfilohije Radovic, spreading the coronavirus to Serbia and Montenegro. He died on Oct. 30, 2020, due to COVID-19.
The followers of the leader paid their respects to him by kissing his body.
Patriarch Irinej, another leader of the church, caught the virus at the funeral and was hospitalized a few days later. His condition worsened and he died on Nov. 20, 2020.
His coffin was covered with glass to minimize the virus contact.
The people who attended the funeral were offered customary drinks with the same spoon, maximizing the risk of spreading infection.
Soon after, Bishop David, who led the funeral, also tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized.
Other senior leaders of the church -- Bishop Artemije, Bishop Milutin and Archpriest Josifov -- also died of the virus. Many others tested positive for the virus.