The Colombian diocese of Santa Marta announced on Tuesday that Bishop Luis Adriano Piedrahita Sandoval, 74, died January 11 of complications from COVID-19.
“With deep sorrow and pain, but with our hope placed in Our Lord Jesus Christ, conqueror of death and sin, we communicate to you that at 5:15 p.m. our bishop, Monsignor Luis Adriano Piedrahita Sandoval, has been called to the House of the Father,” the diocese said in a statement.
The bells of all local churches will toll on Tuesday, the diocese said. Funeral arrangements for the bishop have not yet been announced, but will include stringent social distancing requirements and other safety protocols.
Luz Marina Medina, communication director for the Colombian Bishops Conference, confirmed to ACI Prensa that Piedrahita Sandoval is the first Colombian bishop to die of COVID-19.
“We pray for the repose of his soul, and we also pray for another bishop in very serious condition also in Santa Marta, Bishop emeritus Ugo Puccini,” Medina said.
Bishop Piedrahita Sandoval was born on October 7, 1946 and was ordained a priest on October 29, 1972. In 1999, he became auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Cali, and on August 5, 2014, Pope Francis appointed him Bishop of Santa Marta, on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.
After a new spike in COVID-19 cases – with up to 400 deaths per day – many parts of Colombia have returned to lockdowns.
President Iván Duque announced that vaccinations would begin in January, but Minister of Health Fernando Ruiz said on January 10 that “no date is set” because no arrangements have been solidified with vaccine suppliers.