A country priest has nothing but his Church. The fact that it is not an architectural masterpiece and is not home to any great works of art matters little to him. Each statue and piece of furniture represented a piece of the village. Sixty five year old Ivan Martini who had worked for nine years as parish priest of Rovereto – a village near Modena, the area of Italy that has been worst hit by the earthquake – died this morning after his church collapsed on top of him…
Fr. Ivan loved his Church and everything in it. St. Catherine’s parish had been damaged and declared unfit for use following a previous earthquake, but an inspection had to be carried out in order to salvage some furniture from inside it. So, this morning, the priest entered the church along with two firemen, to try to save some statues. Among these was a statue of the Virgin Mary which his parishioners were particularly fond of.
But the strong earthquake that followed took the priest by surprise. Unable to escape, Fr. Ivan was hit by a rock or a collapsing beam, while the two firemen who had accompanied him managed to escape unscathed.
In the midst of all the damaged buildings, Rovereto mourns its only victim, its parish priest, who was much loved. It is certainly not easy being parish priest, surrounded by communists and immigrants who call God by a different name. “Fr. Ivan was really on the ball,” a parishioner of his said, accompanying his words of praise with an explicit but respectful gesture that described the courage the priest had shown throughout his mission.
Another parish priest was injured when the cathedral dome in Carpi, in the Italian Province of Modena, collapsed. Although news of his alleged death spread, he only actually suffered light physical injury and a huge shock, as the rest of his fellow parishioners did.