Catholic bishop, recovered from the coronavirus, describes the experience

Antonio Napolioni

This disease has caused many deaths, but thanks to the medical care the bishop received, he was able to recover fully and be discharged.

“Yesterday [Tuesday, March 17] I returned home after 10 days in the Main Hospital of Cremona (northern Italy) for pneumonia caused by COVID-19. My first thought is of immense gratitude to the doctors, nurses and all the staff of the Pneumonology department, led by Dr. Giancarlo Bosio. We support them, and those who are working beyond their strength, with prayer, with solidarity, and with the careful execution of the protocols that this very delicate moment demands.”

This is a message published on Facebook by Bishop Antonio Napolioni, bishop of Cremona (Italy), who fell ill with the novel coronavirus. On Friday, March 7, he had to be admitted to his local hospital because he presented symptoms of pneumonia caused by COVID-19.

After a few days, the medical staff confirmed his suspicions. This disease has caused many deaths, but thanks to the medical care the bishop received, he was able to recover fully and be discharged.

“I am grateful,” Bishop Napolioni added on Facebook, “for the countless voices of the Church of Cremona, of the Lombard and Italian episcopate, for the many relationships I’ve received as a gift in these years. I clearly realized that I was being carried, as in a single body, where the one who cares and the one who is cared for are concrete faces of the Lord Jesus. His resurrection at Easter will regenerate hope and put us back on the road. I embrace you virtually.”

What does it feel like?

The bishop told Italian Catholic news outlet Avvenire what he felt when his symptoms of COVID-19 were discovered. “I made a note of it. In the days before, I had been on a pastoral visit, in contact with people. I was already feeling the symptoms; I was having trouble breathing. Fortunately, the diagnosis was immediate and this allowed the situation to change in a few days.”

At the hospital, he explains, “I was isolated. I found great strength in the doctors and paramedics, a lesson in humanity and professionalism, and of impressive dedication.”

In those days, “I experienced great affection. The workers ask for the support of prayer. I will continue to pray for them and with them. The most powerful weapon is to remain spiritually lucid, to entrust yourself to the Lord, who is father also in these situations.”

From earthquake to pandemic

This experience is leaving an indelible inner mark on him. “In the past months …  I faced an earthquake, and in Cremona I thought about the possibility of floods, but I certainly wasn’t expecting a viral pandemic. … We don’t have time for too much reasoning. In reality, we’re never prevented from loving, giving ourselves, or even just enduring.”

Bishop Napolioni invites the sick “to entrust themselves with confidence to those who are taking care of them, feeling at every moment that recovery is possible. This does not always happen, but it is necessary to keep hope alive.”


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