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Six sisters from same Italian convent have died, as coronavirus spreads among religious orders

By Courtney Mares for CNA

Nun at the prayer vigil for consecrated life in St. Peter's Basilica, Jan. 28, 2016. (Credit: Alexey Gotovskiy/CNA)

Vatican City, Mar 30, 2020 / 09:06 am (CNA).- Six sisters in one northern Italian convent have died of coronavirus, and nine sisters are being treated in the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, according to Italian media. Coronavirus is spreading among several religious houses in Italy.

An outbreak in the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity Mother House in Tortona, Italy led half of its 40 sisters to test positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.

“Many times as Little Missionary Sisters of Charity we have set ourselves the goal of sharing the lives of the poor and the least, the fragile lives,” Sister Gabriella Perazzi told Vatican News.

“At this moment we share the lives of many people, who throughout Italy and all over the world, experience this fragility in the face of something that comes and upsets the life of a family, like that of a religious community,” she said. “I believe that the Lord calls us today to serve here, in this precariousness.”

After the Red Cross evacuated 19 sisters in the community to a hospital on March 12, the remaining Little Missionary Sisters of Charity were placed under quarantine in another residence.

Sister Gabriella and one other sister remained behind in the Mother House to tend to six elderly sisters who had not tested positive for the coronavirus, but suffer from other health problems.

“We stayed because these sisters need assistance and our motherhouse is for us a sort of retirement home where the [sisters] come after a life spent in service,” she said. “We have remained at our own risk.”

The motherhouse in Tortona is closely connected to the order’s founder, St. Luigi Orione, 1872-1940, who also founded the Sons of Divine Providence, an order of priests and brothers, dedicated to the care of the elderly, disabled, and disadvantaged.

The Italian newspaper La Stampa reported on March 27 that nine sisters remained hospitalized in Tortona’s COVID-19 hospital, and four have been discharged.

The six Little Missionary Sisters of Charity to have died of COVID-19 are Sister Maria Annetta Ribet, 85, Sister Maria Cristina Fontes, 91, Sister Maria Filomena Licitra, 98, Sister Maria Ulisia Felici, 86, Sister Maria Caterina Cafasso, 82, and Mother Maria Ortensia Turati, 89.

The coronavirus can spread quickly in a religious order because of their shared community life. In two Rome convents, at least 58 religious sisters have tested positive for the coronavirus.

A religious community of the Daughters of San Camillo, dedicated to care for the sick, had 40 sisters test positive for COVID-19, one of whom was hospitalized on March 20.

The Angelic Sisters of Saint Paul, which has a convent in Rome, had 19 sisters out of 21 test positive for the coronavirus earlier this month.

A missionary order of priests in Parma, the Xaverian Missionary Fathers, have seen 16 elderly priests and brothers die since February 29, however the religious community could not confirm that all of these deaths were due to COVID-19.

“Adding to the fact that given the health emergency in the city, and having us an internal assistance service with one of our medical confreres, we thought we would not aggravate the workload of the hospital, believing that we would manage it on our own,” Fr. Rosario Giannattasio, superior of the Xaverian Missionary Fathers’ Italian province told Avvenire March 27.

The deceased Xaverian priests and brothers had previously served as missionaries in Brazil, Indonesia, Rwanda, Congo, Sierra Leone, and Bangladesh.

More than 10,000 people in Italy have died of COVID-19 according to the Italian Ministry of Health. Among the dead are at least 79 diocesan priests in Italy.

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  1. Hope that alternatives to help fight the infection are looked into and tried , as long as they are pretty benign , by their known use for many years , even if for other reasons .
    We might as well start with the herbal tea said to be used by the Holy Father himself – Yerba Mate , from Argentina ..
    Noni powder available easily on line and a biblical product , known as Indian Mulberry , in the book of Maccabees , below in verse 34 , in case it too helps to boost immunity , and can be added to a brew like beverage of ginger , garlic , turmeric , cumin etc , that can be sipped through the day –

    supplements of Vit. C and D and Magnesium – all to be supplied to health care workers as well as patients , can be added as part of the daily temp. check ..

    ( Bill Gates can foot the bill for some of the above , as reparation 🙂 )

    Baking Soda – hope Arm and Hammer who already has wipes on the market as a cleanser would push for fast trials and use of related products , if it is beneficial , to use in masks and to clean the air as well , passing it through water with baking soda etc .

    • Baking soda actually was used as a cold and flu remedy back in 1918 and Arm and Hammer provided directions for that use.
      Sodium bicarbonate may have saved lives in the Spanish flu outbreak because it’s theorized that many of the young people who died did so due to an extreme autoimmune reaction against the virus that caused inflammation and organ failure. And some younger people may also be reacting to the current virus in a similar way. Our community just lost a 40 year old father of 6.
      Sodium bicarbonate is currently being researched as an inexpensive treatment for auto immune disease. It changes certain cells in internal organs and shuts down an over active immune response.

      • Thank you for the good input ; could explain its benefits against allergies as well and pointing to the related spiritual benefits of ‘holocausts ‘, of taking to
        The Lord , all those agents who want to take dominion over us , desiring that we be burning in their domain .
        May The Spirit , instead , take charge that by forgiveness and repentance and mercy , to use every occasion to take to The Lord , all our wounds and any and all agents behind such , for the ever deepening fruits of belonging to The Father – by no means implicating that those who are afflicted are by any means worse than the rest , in any of these areas .

        Came across this article too , about the use of hawthorn berry –

        May the prayers of St.Joseph too ,as the Terror of demons , united with the prayers of all of heaven be with us all , to help us all , as we come to the close of this month of March , thanking The Father , for may be quieting down those heads of nations and their armies that are ever poised to listen to the agents of envy and greed and thus desiring to march across borders .

        Blessings !

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