Bishop of Brescia – Exercise your baptismal priesthood

The Roman Catholic bishop of Brescia, Italy, Peirantonio Tremolada, has called upon the lay faithful to exercise their baptismal priesthood given that chaplains and clergy have limited access to quarantined patients.

The bishop has specifically asked doctors and nurses to take on an extra pastoral role in the diocese, which has suffered the majority of deaths from COVID-19 in Italy.

My thoughts first of all go to our brothers and sisters who because of the virus are in serious condition in our hospitals, who cannot be accompanied by their loved ones in the last moments of their life and who cannot receive pastoral care or the sacraments.

It is my wish that they do not feel alone, that they can have a sign of the loving presence of the Lord, of his power of salvation and of his mercy.

I therefore turn to you dear doctors and nurses who believe in the Lord: be ministers of consolation for these our brothers and sisters, always respecting the freedom of conscience. Add to the admirable care that you are carrying out also this gesture: when you see the sick in particular difficulty or at the end of their earthly life, entrust them to the Lord with a simple silent prayer, and if they or their loved ones make known their desire to be accompanied by Christian comforts, draw a small cross on their foreheads.

Do it on their behalf and also on my behalf, on behalf of our entire Church. You have the full dignity to do so by virtue of your baptismal priesthood.



  1. >>Do it on their behalf and also on my behalf, on behalf of our entire Church. You have the full dignity to do so by virtue of your baptismal priesthood.

    More than this: the priesthood in which the baptized share is the priesthood of Christ. Hence, through the baptized Christ exercises his own priesthood. The priesthood of the baptized is never separate from the ecclesia in which it is born, but nor is the exercise of this priesthood simply a matter of acting on behalf of “our entire Church” unless we make clear that it is the Christus totus that is involved.

  2. Yes. If one has time (death from illness can be a prolonged hard work), and the patient and loved ones present (if any) are so inclined, some of the most beautiful prayers of our tradition are the prayers of commendation for the dying – which any member of the faithful may offer. I imagine that instituted chaplains would have all those prayers. The links below are just a small portion of a much richer banquet of prayers provided.

    1. When my Anglican mother in law was breathing her last I used the Prayer of Commendation. She was not one to have a cleric called in and my wife asked me to say a prayer. I remembered the Commendation for The Dream of Gerontius.
      They are wonderful, powerful words.
      I felt the most honoured of men to have been able to do that final thing for her.

  3. Wise, staff Board Certified Chaplains in the USA have obtained permission to do this, when sacramental priests do not answer when on call, or as now, when volunteer community clergy are not allowed with COVID. Many bishops will not give permission, especially to women. Is it better to argue about who wears a collar, or that the patient receives the comforting presence of the ekklesia in their suffering or dying?

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