Priest died 'saving Madonna statue'

2012-05-30 20:26

San Felice Sul Panaro - As Italy mourns its dead, a parish priest killed in an earthquake as he tried to save a Madonna statue has become a symbol for the loss of lives and devastation of cultural heritage.

Ivan Martini, a priest in the sleepy town of Rovereto sulla Secchia, went back into his damaged church with two firemen to rescue the statue beloved by his parishioners just after Tuesday's fatal earthquake hit the Emilia Romagna region.

Martini, 65, was crushed to death by a falling beam. Both firemen survived, though one was badly injured in the rush for the exit, witnesses said.

"I want to get the Madonna out of there," Martini is reported to have said, before plunging into the depths of the pink and white church, which had already been damaged during a first deadly quake that hit the region on 20 May.

Two tremors

A first tremor brought the church's 17th-century bell crashing to the ground, and a second toppled the building before the priest could escape.

"He put on his helmet and went in with the firemen... then, the Apocalypse hit," parishioner Rosanna Caffini told La Stampa newspaper.

Martini was pulled from the ruins by the firemen but could not be revived.

"When I got to him he was still breathing, but it was obvious he wasn't going to make it".

The story of Martini's death featured widely in Italian media outlets on Wednesday as the country struggled to come to terms with the two quakes which killed 23 people as well as destroying venerated churches, chapels and monuments from the skyline.

"Don Ivan dies to save the Madonna and Emilia Romagna loses its bell towers," said La Repubblica daily, while others lamented "the senseless death of a good man" and "the loss of revered places that were part of our identity."

  • goyougoodthing - 2012-05-30 20:45

    And he worshipped a false idol, so he's not even going to heaven. Ho hum

      Truthis - 2012-05-30 20:47

      Exactly. It was just a statue. It is a fail on two, levels. Commandments 1 and two disobeyed.

      Nare James Mashamaite - 2012-05-30 22:52

      He did not WORSHIP it, it just had a lot of meaning for him and his life. He loved the picture. Just that you and I will neva have an experience he had and feel how he felt about it. Don't be so fundamentalistic.

      michael.a.devilliers - 2012-05-31 04:47

      Disgusting excuses for "humans" goyougoodthing and Truthis. Flipping disgusting. Someone dies and all you can talk about how HIS religion is wrong.

  • tortart - 2012-05-30 21:35

    I cannot believe that somebody died for a statue. She isn't even a good singer

      zaatheist - 2012-05-31 04:20

      Top comment!

      gregory.jurgens - 2012-05-31 07:26

      Awesome comment. Thanks for making me laugh.

  • Nare James Mashamaite - 2012-05-30 22:49

    Too quick to judge people ne! The man was just into the statue, it meant something for him, something you and I will never figure out, especially now that he is gone. He did nor Worship the statue. Stop using God's laws to judge people, its blasphemous.

      zaatheist - 2012-05-31 04:21

      Blasphemy is a victimless crime. OK. This is my daily reality check to test the existence of your almighty, omnipresent, all powerful, “I will not be mocked”, god. Attention: god. Are you listening? I think you are a know nothing, do nothing, useless, embarrassing waste of human energy and money. You come on down here, show yourself so I can give you a good klap. Come on then, smite me now. Waiting ................... time passes ................. nothing. Waiting ................... more time passes ................. nothing. Waiting ................... even more time passes. Yaaaawn! ................. nothing. Oh, well! Seems he is working in mysterious ways again. So mysterious it is almost as if he simply does not exist. PAH!

  • zaatheist - 2012-05-31 05:19

    Once again one asks, What is the purpose of the useless god he worshipped? What possible benefit is there for people to spend their lives wasting their time and money flattering and begging the invisible magic sky daddy when he ignores you when you need him most. Hint. The invisible and the non-existent look exactly the same.

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