An Italian priest died of coronavirus after giving up a respirator that his parishioners bought for him to a younger patient, it has been revealed.
72-year-old Don Giuseppe Berardelli, an archpriest at the parish of San Giovanni Battista in the village of Casnigo, died the night of Sunday March 15th after being hospitalised for health problems that had worsened in recent days.
Before his death, Berardelli had been given a respirator – which are in desperately short supply – but decided to give it to a younger patient who he didn’t know but was struggling to breathe because of the virus.
As reported by Italian publication Araberara, Don Giuseppe was known for his activism, his smile and his ‘great kindness and helpfulness towards everyone’.
In a statement, mayor of Casnigo, Giuseppe Imberti said:
He was a simple, straightforward person, with a great kindness and helpfulness towards everyone, believers and non-believers. His greeting was ‘peace and good’.
Always friendly and available to the public administration, associations and not only those of the parish, he participated in all the events without ever being intrusive.
[…] He was loved by everyone, his former parishioners still came from Fiorano after years to find him. But he also had an incredible ability to solve economic problems, to knock on the right doors for help.
Clara Poli, mayor of Fiorano, described him fondly as ‘a great person’:
‘I remember him on his old Guzzi motorbike, he loved his motorbike, and when he was seen passing by he was always cheerful and full of enthusiasm, he gave peace and joy to our communities.
‘He does not leave us alone, from up there he watches over us and continues to run through the clouds with his motorcycle, who knows how many projects he is doing up there, also for us.’
Despite having suffered health problems, Giuseppe reportedly ‘fought with his usual smile and that grit’.
Berardelli is among at least 60 priests in Italy who have died from coronavirus after the Pope called on them to ‘have courage’ to attend the sick.
Among the dead, the majority were over the age of 70, the Catholic Herald reported.
Our thoughts are with Don Giuseppe and all those affected by the virus.
Images via Twitter