Slain Catholic priest awarded Italy’s highest honour for civil valour

The president of Italy has awarded a Catholic priest Italy’s highest honour for civil valour.

Fr. Roberto Malgesini (51) who was stabbed to death near Lake Como last month, was known for his care for the homeless and migrants in the northern Italian Diocese of Como.

He was killed near his parish by one of the migrants he helped.

Malgesini’s charity to others was well known.

“With generous and tireless self-denial he always worked hard, as an authentic interpreter of the values of human solidarity, in caring for the least and their fragility, offering loving welcome and constant support,” President Sergio Mattarella said when he signed the decree for the decree for the civil valour award.

Malgesini was posthumously awarded the Gold Medal for Civil Valour.

The civil valour award was also bestowed on Willy Monteiro Duarte, an Italian whose parents are from the African island nation of Cape Verde. Duarte was beaten to death in a small town outside of Rome on last month after reportedly running into a fight to protect a friend.

Mattarella said both men’s deaths provided “a shining example” of service “pushed to the point of extreme sacrifice.”

The day after Malgesini died, Pope Francis said: “I praise God for the witness, that is, for the martyrdom, of this witness of charity towards the poorest.”

Francis noted Malgesini was killed “by a person in need whom he himself helped, a person with a mental illness.”

Papal almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski represented the pope at Malgesini’s funeral.

Afterwards, Krajewski told Bishop Oscar Cantoni of Como: “I am sure that there are many priests and lay faithful who want to pick up Fr. Roberto’s evangelical work because this path is the true Gospel in action.”

“If by any chance no one comes forward, I will come to you.”

A 53-year-old man who suffers from mental illness, initially admitted to the stabbing of Malgesini and gave himself up the police shortly afterward. He later reportedly retracted his confession.

Malgesini had let the man sleep in a room for the homeless run by the parish.

In the wake of Malgesini’s death, Francis asked people to pray for “all the priests, sisters, lay people who work with people in need and rejected by society.”


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