An Italian priest made the ultimate sacrifice, hoping to save the life of someone younger than him in a battle with the novel coronavirus.
Don Giuseppe Berardelli gave up a respirator that parishioners had purchased for him in the weeks leading up to his death, according to Italian publication TgCom24.
While it seems he didn’t know whom it would go to, he gave it up in hopes of saving someone else’s life.
“He died after testing positive for coronavirus, but also because he chose to sacrifice himself for another person,” the site reports. “Don Giuseppe Berardelli … renounced the respirator he needed and that his parish community had purchased just for him.”
“And he did it so that respirator could go to someone else. Someone younger, but ill like him. Someone who didn’t even know.”
Berardelli, 72, had been archpriest of San Giovanni Battista parish since 2006, the publication says.
He died on the evening of March 15 in a local hospital in Lovere, where he was being hospitalized for health problems.
James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor of America Mag, shared his condolences for the late priest on Twitter.
“He is a ‘Martyr of Charity,’ a saint like St. Maximilian Kolbe, who in Auschwitz volunteered to take the place of a condemned man with a family, and was killed,” Martin wrote.
Fr. Giuseppe Berardelli, a 72-year-old priest who gave a respirator (that his parishioners had purchased for him), to a younger patient (whom he did not know), has died from #coronavirus.
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) March 24, 2020
“Don Giuseppe died as a priest,” a health worker from San Giuseppe retirement home told Italian magazine Araberara. “I am deeply moved by the fact that he, archpriest of Casnigo, gave up his will to assign him to someone younger than he.”
Long-time mayor of Casnigo, Giuseppe Imberti, described him to the magazine as “a simple, straightforward person, with a great kindness and helpfulness towards everyone, believers and non-believers.”
So far, six Italian priests have reportedly died because of COVID-19, Newsweek reports. At least 14 have been hospitalized.
He’s now one of the more than 6,000 Italians who have lost their lives to COVID-19. Outside of China, the European country was hit hardest by the rapidly spreading virus.
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