A terminally-ill Italian priest who was ordained two years early due to the intervention of Pope Francis has died aged 38.
Fr Salvatore Mellone, of the Archdiocese of Trani-Barletta-Bisceglie, died on Monday two and half months after his ordination.
According to Catholic News Agency, Fr Mellone was able to say Mass daily, baptise a child, and console the other sick persons at his hospital before he died.
Two days before his priestly ordination, Pope Francis telephoned Fr Mellone and told him: “The first blessing that you’ll give as a priest, you’ll give to me. Salvatore, I’m with you. You‘ll be ordained and you’ll celebrate Mass.”
Archbishop Giovanni Battista Pichierri of Trani said Fr Mellone’s funeral Mass at Most Holy Cross parish, where the priest was ordained, on Tuesday.
A statement from the Trani archdiocese shortly after the priest’s death said that “despite his illness, (Fr Mellone) always warmly embraced everyone who came to see him. He listened to what everyone had to say. He consoled everyone.”
At his ordination in April, Fr Mellone said: “Today I feel myself carried on the shoulders of Christ; and as a priest I’ll wear the stole with Christ, for the salvation of the world. Moreover, to celebrate just one Eucharist, for me will be a real participation in the priesthood of Christ.”