In April 2020 I started photographing chaplains on duty at the major hospitals in Piedmont overwhelmed by the coronavirus emergency. Since March 2020, Piedmont, has been one of the most affected region in Italy by the Covid-19 emergency.
As well as doctors and other health workers, chaplains, when called to visit the wards, are unrecognizable behind overalls, masks and visors. They are sometimes forced to bring their closeness by praying or greeting through a glass.
Much of their work, however, is done outside the wards: the word of comfort or the joke exchanged with a nurse in front of a coffee machine; telephone calls from families looking for news of their hospitalized relatives; solitary prayer at Masses celebrated behind closed doors.
The topic of spiritual assistance is part of a wider debate on patient care and its role in a healing process that is not only physical. The right to receive spiritual assistance of the patient, belonging to any confession, is in fact guaranteed by Italian law and falls within the right to freedom of worship enshrined in Article 8 of the Constitution.
The witness of the chaplains provide a new point of view on the pandemic still in progress. They have always chosen to share in the suffering of others: believers, but also lay people. Despite physical barriers and fear of contagion, they have never ceased to be there.