A beloved Italian priest suffering with the Coronavirus Covid-19 has died after reportedly sacrificing his ventilator to ensure a younger patient could be treated.
The Italian paper Araberara reported that Fr Giuseppe Berardelli, 72, died March 15 at a hospital in Lovere. Ventilators are in short supply in the region which has been devastated by the COVID-19 virus, but the priest insisted that it be used for a younger patient instead.
“I am deeply moved by the fact that the archpriest of Casnigo, Don Giuseppe Berardelli – to whom the parish community had bought a respirator – has renounced his will to assign it to someone younger than him,” the paper quoted a healthcare worker from the San Giuseppe di Casnigo Rest Home as saying.
There was an outpouring of praise for the priest on social media after reports of his sacrifice spread.
Araberara said that Fr Giuseppe had been parish priest of Casnigo for almost fourteen years where he had been beloved by parishioners and had a ‘perennial smile’. A former mayor of the town, Giuseppe Imberti, said the priest’s greeting was always ‘peace and good’, and that he had always displayed “a great kindness and helpfulness towards everyone”.
“He died as a priest,” the former mayor said.
Araberara also spoke to Clara Poli who had been mayor of Fiorano where Fr Berardelli had also served. “He was a priest who listened to everyone, he knew how to listen, whoever turned to him knew that he could count on his help. 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. With him the administration managed to set up the Cre centre which has now truly become a point of reference for all young people.”
More than 3,000 people have now died in Italy after contracting COVID-19, among them some 60 priests this month, according to Avvenire, the newspaper owned by the Italian bishops conference.