Fr. Don Giuseppe Berardelli, the parish priest of Casnigo, Italy, died after he was infected with COVID-19.
Initial reports indicated that Berardelli declined to use a ventilator that was donated to him and instead gave it to a younger patient he didn't know.
After the story was covered by several outlets, Catholic News Agency reported Tuesday that wasn't true.
Beradelli is among at least 60 priests who have died amid the novel coronavirus outbreak in Italy, which is home to the overall highest death toll of any country thus far.
Don Giuseppe Berardelli, a priest in Casnigo, Italy, died last week after being infected with COVID-19.
The story of Berardelli's death was widely shared after Italian media site Araberara reported that parishioners donated a ventilator to Berardelli, but he declined to use the breathing apparatus and instead gave it to a younger patient at the same hospital.
The story was aggregated by a variety of regional and global news sites, including Insider.
—James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) March 24, 2020
However, that story turned out to be false.
While those who knew Berardelli remembered him as a selfless man, some told Catholic News Agency that the tale of the donated respirator was not an example of his kindness.
"There was not a donated respirator. There have not been any respirators coming from outside of the hospital," Fr. Giulio Dellavite, secretary general of Berardelli's diocese, told CNA Tuesday.
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Dellevite, a friend of Fr. Berardelli for over 20 years, told CNA he believes that Berardelli would have given up a potential spot in the intensive care unit up for another younger patient, if he could have.
"But we do not have certainty," the priest said.
Beradelli is among at least 60 Italian priests who have died from the coronavirus, according to the Catholic News Agency. The youngest priest to die was Fr. Paolo Camminati, who died in the hospital on March 21 at age 53, the outlet reported.
Italy has emerged as the European epicenter of the pandemic and remains in a nationwide lockdown in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.
There are nearly 64,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Italy and more than 6,000 residents have died — the highest death toll of any country thus far. On Saturday, Italy broke its own record death toll for a single day, with 793 COVID-19 deaths over 24 hours.
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