Father Giuseppe Berardelli, a 72-year-old priest in Italy has died from Coronavirus, after giving up his ventilator to a younger patient.
Parishioners brought Berardelli a ventilator after he had tested positive for the virus. Once Berardelli heard there was another younger patient suffering from the same virus and had no ventilator, Father Berardelli gave up his ventilator to the younger man, whom he did not know.
One of the healthcare workers in Saint Joseph retirement, where Berardelli lived was moved by this act of kindness.
“Father Giuseppe Berardelli died as a priest,”
“I am profoundly moved by the fact that he, as archpriest of Casnigo, freely renounced his respirator to give it to someone younger than him.”
Father Berardelli died on March 15th in the hospital of Lovere, in Bergamo.
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His story only began to circulate on Italian media on Monday. Like many others who have succumbed to the disease, Father Berardelli already suffered from severe health complications.
The deceased priest is being compared to Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish priest who was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II and offered to take the place of another prisoner who had been condemned to death.
In punishment for an escaped prisoner, guards had randomly chose ten prisoners to be starved to death. One of the men chosen began to plead for his life, insisting that he had a wife and family. At that point Father Kolbe offered to take the man’s place, noting that he had no wife, after which the priest was thrown in the starvation bunker, where he died days later.
At least 50 priests have reportedly died with the coronavirus in Italy, many of whom followed the appeal of Pope Francis to go out and assist others during this difficult time, even at the risk of their own lives.
As of Monday evening, Italy has reported 6,077 deaths of people with coronavirus, at an average age of 81, almost all of whom suffered from other serious diseases. Since March 9, Italy has been under a state-imposed lockdown, with its economy at a standstill and citizens confined to their homes.