Hero priest dies of coronavirus after giving up respirator to younger patient

An Italian priest who died of coronavirus is being hailed as a hero for giving up a respirator to a younger person.

Motorbike lover Don Giuseppe Berardelli, 72, was the archpriest of Casnigo in the virus-ravaged region of Lombardy.

The priest, who had underlying health problems, preached in the region for 14 years before dying in a hospital in Lovere after being struck down with COVID-19.

He was known for always smiling, according to local media, and died "as a priest".

Even to the end he showed his charity by giving up a respiratory bought for him by the local community to a younger person.

A healthcare worker at the San Giuseppe di Casnigo home, where he died, said: "I am deeply moved by the fact that the archpriest of Casnigo, Don Giuseppe Berardelli – to whom the parish community had bought a respirator – renounced his will to assign it to someone younger than him."

Paying tribute, another person who knew him said: "He was a simple, straightforward person, with a great kindness and helpfulness towards everyone, believers and non-believers.

His greeting was "peace and good", they added.

Clara Poli, mayor of Fiorano where Don Giuseppe also worked, said: “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.

"I remember him on his old Guzzi motorbike, he loved his motorbike, and when you saw him go by he was always cheerful and full of enthusiasm, he gave peace and joy to our communities".

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Don Giuseppe died at the Lovere hospital.

There was no no funeral for him, but the people of Caserta looked out onto the balcony of their homes and applauded his coffin as it passed.

Mayor Clara added: "He does not leave us alone, from up there he watches over us and continues to run through the clouds with his motorcycle, who knows how many projects he is doing up there, also for us…"

Italy the worst coronavirus hit country outside of China, with 63,930 active cases and 6,077 deaths. Of those infected 7,432 have recovered.

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