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'Yes, yes, I am the Pope. Every time I call someone they think it's a joke, but it is me'

Michael Kelly


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Beacon: The Pope has offered both hope and consolation at a desperate time. Photo: Vatican Media/AFP/Getty

Beacon: The Pope has offered both hope and consolation at a desperate time. Photo: Vatican Media/AFP/Getty

VATICAN MEDIA/AFP via Getty Imag

Beacon: The Pope has offered both hope and consolation at a desperate time. Photo: Vatican Media/AFP/Getty

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the newspaper 'L'Eco di Bergamo' was little known to anyone except in the town of Bergamo itself, 40km north of Milan.

As Covid-19 spread in northern Italy, foreign correspondents based in the country sought new ways to tell the story and get across the unmitigated devastation of the loss of life. Like most journalists on a fresh beat, they turned to the local newspaper 'L'Eco di Bergamo'. One of the first things they noticed was the sheer volume of obituaries being carried.

A video soon went viral in which a reader decided to compare the paper's recent obituary pages to those at the outbreak's onset. First, the narrator holds up a copy of the February 9 edition, published when the country had confirmed only three cases. The obituaries section takes up one and a half pages.