Reports about an Italian priest who died from coronavirus after he gave up his ventilator to a younger patient has been making rounds in the internet. Because of his selfless act, the news easily got the attention of many online readers.
Don Giuseppe Berardelli, 72 years old, was the archpriest of Casnigo in northern Italy, about 50 miles northeast of Milan. He died in a hospital in nearby Lovere.
Italian news outlet Araberara reports that Berardelli was given a respirator that was purchased for him by parishioners. But he did not accept it and has given it a younger person.
Although this is indeed a story of the priest's heroism, it turns out that the news is false. Berardelli is a selfless man but it was later on clarified that he did not decline using the breathing apparatus so a younger patient can use it.
"There was not a donated respirator. There have not been any respirators coming from outside of the hospital," Fr. Giulio Dellavite, secretary general of Berardelli's diocese, told Catholic News Agency.
Dellevite, who is a friend of Fr. Berardelli for more than 20 years, said that the deceased priest would definitely give up his ventilator if he as one. He would even give up a spot in the intensive care unit so another patient can be given the chance to live.
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.
"Greater love has no person..." (Jn 15:13) https://t.co/qXQ6knoE6n via @Araberara pic.twitter.com/uKxRNghire — James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) March 24, 2020
Testimonials for the priest
“He was a simple, straightforward person, with a great kindness and helpfulness towards everyone, believers and non-believers,” said Giuseppe Imberti, the mayor of Casnigo, The Hill reports.
Fr. Berardelli is known to be a happy man. Prima Bergamo said that the priest can be remembered for his smile and dynamism. People also know how he loves his Guzzi Galletto motorcycle which he always rides with joy.
"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," Fiorano Mayor, Clara Poli said. It is know that Fr. Berardelli also served as a priest in this area.
Coronavirus has taken lives of many priests
In Italy, at least 60 priests already died from the coronavirus. With that, Fr. Berardelli is just one of the many Italian priest who did not win their battle against COVID-19.
Most of the priests are at the age of 70s and has underlying health conditions. The youngest priest to die was Fr. Paolo Camminati at the age of 53. Fr. Camminati, who was the parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes in Diocese of Piacenza, died in the hospital on March 21 .
Among those who died are in Piacenza are Fr. Kidane Berhane, a Cistercian monk from Eritrea and 87-year-old twin brothers, Fr. Mario Boselli and Fr. Giovanni Boselli, who died within a day of each other.
Due the huge number of coronavirus deaths and infections, Italy has emerged as the European epicenter of the pandemic. It has surpassed the numbers of China which is ground zero of COVID-19. The situation of Italy requires them to remain in a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the deadly disease.