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Bishop Emmanuel Delmas KTOTV / Youtube screen grab

ANGERS, France, March 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A French bishop tested positive for coronavirus after having visited the Vatican while infected where he spent time in the presence of Pope Francis. 

Bishop Emmanuel Delmas and 29 French bishops had visited Pope Francis in the Vatican on March 9. The 65-year-old was already experiencing symptoms in Rome, the diocese confirmed in a statement.

Pope Francis received the delegation of bishops from more than two dozen dioceses in France. The bishops came to Rome for an ad limina visit, which obliges all bishops to come to the Eternal City once every five years.

The Holy See Press Office did not respond to media inquiries asking if the French bishops had greeted Pope Francis with a customary handshake after the meeting.

Corrispondenza Romana reported, however, that bishops met Pope Francis, “each giving him his hand.”

A statement from the Angers diocese said that the bishop is “only slightly affected and his condition is currently not causing concern.” 

“He is following the prescribed rest and treatment and has been in isolation since his return from Italy.”

Delmas invited the faithful “to persevere in prayer.” He recommended “this time of trial” as an opportunity “to pray especially for the sick, the frail and those working in health care.”

According to Famille Chretienne, the bishops accompanying Delmas are quarantined, as well.

It is not yet clear whether Pope Francis is quarantined. On Sunday, he went on a walking pilgrimage to two churches in Rome, praying for an end of the coronavirus epidemic.

“This afternoon, just after 4 pm, Pope Francis left the Vatican and made a private visit to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, to offer a prayer to the Virgin Mary, Salus Populi Romani, where her icon is kept and venerated,” the Holy See Press Office stated on Sunday, according to Vatican News.

“Then, after taking a walk along the Via del Corso – as if making a pilgrimage – he visited the church of San Marcello al Corso, where a miraculous crucifix is housed. In 1522 it was carried in procession throughout the neighborhoods of the city so that the ‘Great Plague’ might cease in Rome.”

The bishop of Angers is not the first bishop to battle coronavirus. 98-year-old bishop Joseph Zhu Baoyu of Nanyang in China was diagnosed with the disease in early February.

“He has tested negative since February 12 and his lungs were declared no longer infected on February 14,” AsiaNews reported. The bishop was also suffering from other diseases.

Additionally, bishop Antonio Napolioni of Cremona in Italy, who had been hospitalized due to coronavirus, was discharged on Monday. The diocese announced that the bishop remains in quarantine for at least two more weeks, when he will be tested for coronavirus once more.

“The entire Church of Cremona, while raising its gratitude to God, joins in warm thanks to the health staff … and all the workers who do their best for the good of so many suffering people, and therefore welcomes with joy the news of the discharge of bishop Antonio and his return home, wishing him to continue his convalescence with serenity in the expectation of being able to see him soon among our communities at the end of this painful emergency,” the diocese added.

In Italy, at least 10 priests have died of the coronavirus. According to the Catholic News Agency, “more than half of them were from the diocese of Bergamo” in northern Italy.

“The number of priests who have died this week and that of those who are still in a particularly serious situation is very high,” bishop Francesco Beschi of Bergamo warned.

Italy is nearing 30,000 cases of people diagnosed with the coronavirus. The number of deaths has risen to almost 2,000. On March 16, the number of daily new cases was lower than on the two days before.

France has reported roughly 6,600 cases, and 148 deaths.

French dioceses, for instance, the archdiocese of Paris, announced that public Masses are canceled. Baptisms and marriages are no longer possible, while funerals cannot exceed 100 participants.