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The priests from the northern Italian town of Bergamo had “exposed themselves [to the virus] to be close to their community”
In the last week six Catholic priests from the northern Italian city of Bergamo have died from the coronavirus and over 20 have been hospitalized, according to a report from Crux.
Crux’s Rome Bureau Chief Inéz San Martín reported that the Bishop of Bergamo, Francesco Beschi told Italian TV network Rainews24 that the priests who succumbed to the disease, did so while serving their community. Bergamo is located in the Lombardy region, the hardest hit province in Italy.
“Our priests are many, and numerous are those who have exposed themselves [to the virus] to be close to their community,” Beschi said Sunday. “Their illness is an evident sign of closeness, a painful sign of closeness and sharing in the suffering.”
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Crux reported that as of Sunday, Bergamo (population 120,000) had 3,416 coronavirus cases out of the country’s 21,157 total cases. An estimated 50 people a day are dying of the disease in the town.
Bergamo is best known as the birthplace of St. John XXIII who served as pope from 1958 until his death 1963.
After the Church decided to suspend public Masses in Italy in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus, some priests were captured on social media tending to their flocks, carrying the Blessed Sacrament through the streets and offering blessings to passersby.
On Friday, Pope Francis offered his prayer that priests tend to their flock under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
“I would also like to pray today for pastors who need to accompany the people of God during this crisis,” the pope said. “May the Lord grant them the strength and the ability to choose the best ways to help. Drastic measures are not always good.”