In many hospitals, along with the doctors and patients who multiply in their work to manage the indescribable number of patients who come due to the coronavirus, there are also priests who also carry out an impressive spiritual work. And their help is not only focused on very sick patients, but also, increasingly, on the health professionals themselves who see dozens of people die and helplessly experience the advance of the virus.
Furthermore, there are more and more priests among the victims. In Italy there have already been 50 deaths, the youngest of them at just 45 years old.
There are several testimonies that are known of chaplains in hospitals collapsed by the coronavirus. One of them is that of Angelo Rossi, an Italian priest, chaplain of the small hospital in Treviglio, a center that is seeing 75 people die of coronavirus a week.
The chaplain is claimed in the hallways by doctors and nurses. One of the aspects that this chaplain highlights is the spiritual assistance that doctors, nurses and the rest of the health personnel are demanding, and even the security guards who watch over there. When they see him go through the corridors they stop him, ask him to pray for them, or directly cry over helplessness and tiredness. His day-to-day life consists of short visits to the rooms where the sick are: he recites some prayers with them, blesses them, imparts the sacrament of confession or the Eucharist. Many ask for the Anointing of the Sick, but Don Angelo is angry when he associates only with the dying. "It is the sacrament of healing, in which we ask the Lord for the strength to face a moment of physical or spiritual fragility, not just the last request for forgiveness and repentance that must be made before leaving."
Father Rossi is on the edge, as his work goes on day and night. Security guards, after long shifts, collapse in front of him for preventing family members of patients who are dying from entering. Thus, they come to ask him to confess after years completely estranged from God. And he talks about situations like when he meets nurses in the hallways who cry and ask him to pray for a patient, or doctors, who also break down crying, because they have had to tell a family member that there are not enough machines to support a being wanted alive.
"All this reminds us all that man is very small if such a small virus manages to bring entire nations to their knees," says Father Rossi. "Here, I rediscovered that we are creatures, that we need greater love. In these weeks I have met men and women from whom I learn every day, and I discover that, although their hearts are full of questions, they are still totally dedicated to caring for those who come, just as Jesus would have done.” And he adds that “serving the most fragile, the sick, is a privilege. I am sure that every face that I find inside these pavilions has the suffering face of Jesus.”