Toward the conclusion of the general audience, yesterday, before greeting the Italian-speaking faithful, Pope Francis paused for a moment, to recall “Father Roberto Malgesini, a priest of the diocese of Como”.
Prior to greeting the Italian-speaking faithful present for the Wednesday General Audience in the San Damaso Courtyard, Pope Francis paused to recall a priest of the diocese of Como, Italy, who was murdered on Tuesday morning.
Death of Fr Malgesini
Fr Malgesini’s body was found near the rectory where he lived. Numerous stab wounds were visible, including one on the neck which caused his death.
According to investigators, Fr Malgesini had begun his normal morning routine distributing breakfast to the needy. It appears that the man who murdered him was lying in wait just outside the rectory. Fr Malgesini not only knew this man, who was homeless, but had been providing him assistance. They are said to have been on good terms. However, as Pope Francis himself alluded to in his words during the general audience, the man may have been mentally ill.
Pope Francis one in sorrow with those who mourn
Pope Francis continued, saying he unites himself “to the sorrow and the prayers of his relatives and to the community” of Como. Then the Pope gave voice to the same sentiments already expressed by the Bishop of Como:
“I give praise to God for the witness, that is, for the martyrdom of this witness of charity toward the poorest.”
The Pope then asked everyone to pause a moment in prayer, both for Fr Malgesini and for “all the priests, sisters, lay faithful who work with the needy and those society casts away.”
Many people who knew and were helped by Fr Malgesini have expressed dismay at his death. Among them were many foreigners. Dozens of them arrived at the scene of the crime, seeking in some way to be close to the person they considered to be their father.
“He was truly a father to the poor”, Como’s Bishop Oscar Cantoni said. He likens his own relationship to the murdered priest as that of a son. “We saw each other often,” the Bishop said. “He used to tell me about his activities, recounting the most beautiful things because he carried out his ministry joyfully. He had a vocation within a vocation.”
A diocesan website has already begun to receive testimonials regarding Fr Malgesini.
“He gave everything for the poor, even his own blood. It seems to me he may be called a martyr for charity.”
“He was a happy man and priest because he had discovered that a way to follow Jesus was that of meeting Him in the living flesh of the poor”.
Father Malgesini was born in Morbegno, in the Italian province of Sondrio in 1969. He was ordained a priest in 1998. He served as a priest in the diocese of Como since 2008.