Priest mourns death of young Italian soccer star

.- During the funeral Mass for a young Italian soccer star who died suddenly during a match on April 14, Father Luciano Manenti of the Diocese of Bergamo said the tragedy provides believers with an opportunity to reflect on their faith and the fragility of life.

Professional soccer player Piermario Morosini, 25, collapsed from a heart attack during a game last Saturday and was pronounced dead. The incident, seen live on television, shocked Italians nationwide.

The funeral Mass was held at a small church in Monterosso before a congregation of six hundred. Some five thousand people gathered at the Bergamo Stadium to follow the funeral on giant TV screens.

Morosini won the affection of his fellow soccer players on the five teams he played for at different times since he was a teenager. He was known for his perpetual smile despite a tragic life growing up.  His mother died when he was 15, and soon after he lost his father as well. He was left to take care of his two handicapped siblings. His younger brother committed suicide and his older sister, Maria Carla, lives in a home for the mentally disabled in Bergamo.

Morosini’s death has sparked a network of solidarity among Italian soccer players, with some stepping forward to offer to care for his handicapped sister.

Dozens of players and coaches from Italian professional soccer attended the funeral Mass, as well as local and regional politicians.

During his homily, Father Manenti spoke of his long friendship with Morosini, as well as the affection and gratitude he always had for his deceased parents. Reflecting on the season of Easter, Father Manenti told those gathered, “None of us will experience Easter in our lives unless we accept the beauty of our fragility.”

“I thank you,” he said of the popular soccer player, “because in these days you have taught me to be a father and I have come to a greater understanding of what it means that God is our Father.”

Father Manenti also read a brief message from Bishop Francesco Beschi of Bergamo, who said Morosini’s smile brought great joy to his fellow soccer players and to his fans.

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