Rome Newsroom, Nov 30, 2020 / 04:00 am (CNA).- Forty-three Italian priests died in November after contracting the coronavirus, as Italy experiences a second wave of the epidemic.

According to L’Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, 167 priests have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in February.

One Italian bishop also died in November. A retired auxiliary bishop of Milan, Marco Virgilio Ferrari, 87, died Nov. 23 from the coronavirus.

At the beginning of October, Bishop Giovanni D’Alise of the Diocese of Caserta died at age 72.

Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, was critically ill with COVID-19 earlier this month. He is continuing to recover after testing negative last week.

Bassetti, the archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve, spent 11 days in intensive care in a hospital in Perugia, before being transferred to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital to continue his convalescence.

“In these days that have seen me go through the suffering of the contagion from COVID-19, I have been able to experience the humanity, the competence, the care put in place every day, with tireless concern, by all the personnel,” Bassetti said in a message to his diocese Nov. 19.

“They will be in my prayers. I also carry with me in memory and in prayer all the patients who are still in the moment of trial. I leave you with an exhortation of comfort: let us remain united in the hope and love of God, the Lord never abandons us and, in suffering, he holds us in His arms.”

Italy is currently experiencing a second wave of the virus, with more than 795,000 positive cases, according to the Italian health ministry. Almost 55,000 people have died from the virus in the country since February.

New containment measures were introduced at the beginning of the month, including regional lockdowns and restrictions such as curfews, shop closures, and no dining-in at restaurants and bars after 6 p.m.

According to national data, the curve of the second wave is on the decline, though experts report that in some regions of Italy infections numbers have not yet peaked.

In April, bishops across Italy visited cemeteries to pray and offer Mass for the souls of those who had died from COVID-19, including priests.

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