At least 10 priests in Italy have died from coronavirus — the majority of them in one of the country’s hardest-hit regions, according to a new report.
In Bergamo, the Italian diocese reporting the most COVID-19 cases, six priests have died and 20 more are recovering in a hospital, Bishop Francesco Beschi said Monday.
“The number of priests who have died this week and those who are still in a particularly serious situation is very high,” Bergamo said on the Italian program InBlu Radio, translated by the Catholic News Service. “We are living this pain by sharing it with that of our communities together with the number of infected people, the sick and a high number of deaths. We are not separated from our community even in the passage of death.”
Among the dead in Bergamo are Fr. Giancarlo Nava, 70, who previously served as a missionary in Paraguay, and Fr. Silano Sirtoli, 59.
The city’s local government posted an update online last week that the hospital mortuary had run out of space, so the cemetery and church were opened for the bodies awaiting burial.
“We are experiencing something that goes well beyond the normal ups and downs of life,” Breschi said in his Sunday homily, according to the Catholic News Service.
Monsignor Vincenzo Rini, of the Diocese of Cremona, died Saturday of COVID-19, the outlet reported. Rini, a novelist and noted literary expert, ran the diocesan newspaper for 30 years, and at one time served as the president of the Italian bishops’ news agency.
Meanwhile, the Bishop of Cremona, Antonio Napolioni, who had been hospitalized for 10 days with severe respiratory symptoms related to the virus, has recovered and returned home Monday.
He remains in quarantine and will be tested again for the bug in 14 days, according to a statement from his diocese.
More than 27,000 people have contracted the infection and 2,470 deaths have been reported in Italy — the most affected country outside Asia.