An Italian priest who contracted the new coronavirus died after he gave up a ventilator so a younger patient could have one, local media reports say.
Don Giuseppe Berardelli, 72, was the archpriest of Casnigo, a town in northern Italy about 50 miles northeast of Milan.
According to Italian news site Prima Bergamo, Berardelli died sometime between March 15 and 16 and was being treated at a hospital in nearby Lovere, as his condition worsened.
A health care worker at the hospital told the Italian online news outlet Araberara that Berardelli was given a ventilator but the priest refused it so someone who was younger than him could use it.
In northern Italy, where Berardelli lived, health care professionals have struggled with limited resources to treat the mass influx of patients battling COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
According to a Johns Hopkins University tracker of the outbreak, there have been 63,927 known cases, leading to 6,077 known deaths, in Italy as of Tuesday.
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According to Vatican News, Berardelli greeted everyone with the phrase: “Pace e bene.”
“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,” Clara Poli, mayor of Fiorano, where Berardelli had been a parish priest, told Araberara, according to a translation.
He was an enthusiastic priest, often spotted on his red Guzzi motorcycle.
“He loved his motorbike, and when you saw him go by he was always cheerful,” Poli told Araberara.
Prima Bergamo reported that Berardelli was born in Fonteno in 1947 and was ordained in 1973. In 2006, he became archpriest of Casnigo.
As reports of his death came across social media, many people, including clergy, praised his sacrifice.
“Don Giuseppe Berardelli, patron of those who suffer from coronavirus and all who care for them, pray for us!” tweeted the Rev. James Martin, who compared Berardelli to Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic saint who volunteered to die in place of a stranger during the Holocaust.
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