This as-told-to essay from a priest in Nembro, in Northern Italy, has been edited and condensed for clarity from a conversation with Alessio Perrone.
Even for us priests, it’s harrowing. Death, that is, but also the inhumanity with which we are forced to face it in these strange times.
I’m the parish priest in Nembro, a small town near Bergamo, Lombardy, that has been one of the worst-hit by Italy’s coronavirus crisis. Here, in a small town of about 11,000, at least 100 people have died in the first 20 days of March alone.
Although our mourning started with the coronavirus outbreak in Lombardy at the end of February, I and the other three priests in Nembro had seen some harbingers since early January. We saw an unusually high number of funerals—up to four or five a week. This had occasionally happened in the past, but in January it was happening every single week—every day we had a funeral, if not two.
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