Don Giuseppe Berardelli

(FOX NEWS) -- A Catholic priest in Italy is being called a "Martyr of Charity" for refusing a respirator so a younger patient could use it to ward off the coronavirus.

Fox News reports Don Giuseppe Berardelli, 72, died last Sunday at a hospital in Lovere after he lent medical equipment his parishioners bought for him to a stranger.

"He is a 'Martyr of Charity,' a saint like St. Maximilian Kolbe, who in Auschwitz volunteered to take the place of a condemned man with a family, and was killed," James Martin, Jesuit Journal America editor, tweeted.

"Don Giuseppe Berardelli, patron of those who suffer from coronavirus and all who care for them, pray for us!" he added.

Berardelli already had health problems before he tested positive for COVID-19, according to Araberara, an Italian newspaper.

The main priest in the town of Casnigo is one of at least 6,000 people in the nation who has died in the European country, an epicenter of the deadly pandemic.

A shortage of ventilators has become a problem not only in Italy, but around the world.

Berardelli requested the patient's information be kept confidential.

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