The vicar general of the Rome Diocese, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, 66, has been tested positive of the new coronavirus disease, the Vatican announced on March 31.
The prelate was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on March 30, after running a fever and testing positive for COVID-19.
The cardinal’s general condition was good, and he was already receiving antiviral treatment, according to church officials.
In a statement released by the Vatican press office, Cardinal De Donatis said he is offering his prayers for the sick and for the city of Rome.
“I am also experiencing this trial, I am at peace and confident,” he said. “I entrust myself to the Lord, and to the prayers of all you, dear faithful of Rome,” added the prelate.
He said he lives the moment “as an opportunity that providence has given me to share in the sufferings of so many brothers and sisters.”
Cardinal De Donatis is the first church official close to the pope to have been infected with the disease.
Although the pope is technically bishop of Rome, he delegates the day-to-day running of the diocese to his vicar.
Pope Francis has been in touch with the cardinal by telephone over the recent decision to close all Rome churches in line with an Italian government shutdown order.
The prelate had also fewer meetings with his staff at the Lateran Palace, but as a precaution, his closest collaborators have already been placed in isolation.
Since March 11, Cardinal De Donatis has been celebrating Mass, which has been broadcast online and on television, every evening at the Sanctuary of Divine Love in Rome.
During the first Mass from the sanctuary, on the occasion of the pope’s act of entrustment to Mary, the cardinal said that “the antidote, the therapy for the suffering of the present moment, is to entrust oneself to the hands of God.”
The Vatican has earlier announced that six people have tested positive for the virus in the city.
Dozens of members of the clergy in Italy have been reported infected by the disease.
Last week, Salesian Bishop Angelo Moreschi, the apostolic vicar of Ethiopia’s Gambella Vicariate, became the first bishop in the world to die of the disease.
Italy has more than 100,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and nearly 11,600 deaths of infected people.