We have seen the worst of religious opportunists in this crisis. There are also stories of amazing selflessness from religious groups and individuals. One such person is Rev. Giuseppe Berardelli, 72. Many of you may already have heard of this man but his story is as inspiring as it is tragic. According to Vatican News, Berardelli greeted everyone with the phrase: “Pace e bene” (“Peace and All Good”)
Berardelli was known for his warm personality and his love for his motorbike.
He contracted coronavirus like many priests who are struggling to attend to the sick and the dying. Sixty priests in Italy have died in this pandemic and many others are sick.
Berardelli served at the parish of San Giovanni Battista, in Casnigo, Italy, just northeast of Milan. When his parishioners bought him a respirator, he insisted that they give it to a younger person. He then contracted the virus.
At the hospital, he was put on a ventilator. However, according to published reports, he spotted a younger patient struggling with the virus. He insisted that the equipment be used on the younger patient. Berardelli later died at the hospital from the virus.
Berardelli is the face of humanity in this pandemic. It is easy to succumb to cynicism in reading of religious opportunists and fringe figures. However, hundreds of priests like Berardelli have joined doctors and nurses in confronting this menace. Dozens have died in bringing solace to the suffering. Yes, this crisis has brought out some of the worst of us in the form of hoarders and profiteers. However, it has also brought out some of the best of us. Berardelli was the best of us.
Pace e bene, Father Berardelli.