Updated, This Story Likely Not True–Italian Doctor After COVID-19: “I was an atheist but now I’m back to God.”

coronavirus-l via INTERRIS

I was taken to school on this one. According to Joel Forster of Evangelical Focus this story is likely false news. Apparently there are several versions circulating, one with a 75 year old pastor as the inspirational figure in the story, others, like this one, point to a priest. Also, a member of the Italian Evangelical Alliance board was asked about the story. He then contacted evangelical pastors of several denominations in Italy and they all agreed that the testimony is not reliable. (See Joel Forster’s article: Christian Fake News? The story of the atheist doctor in Lombardy)

Forster goes on to say it’s possible there could be some truth in the story. But the right thing to do here is to point out it’s not credible.

The following post and the above image are from an article published in INTERRIS. (Manuela Petrini, Covid-19, la straordinaria testimonianza di un medico: “Ero ateo ma ora sono tornato a Dio”, INTERRIS, March 21, 2020) A friend of mine used Google translate and then did some further editing to clean up the translation. Hat tip to Amy DeTar Ginski and Sheila Underwood Vamplin.

Since February 21, the coronavirus has burst into Italian borders causing over 4,000 deaths. We are informed on a daily basis of how many people have died, how many have recovered and what the total number of infected people is. The whole of Italy was moved by the sad image of the column of trucks of the Italian Army which, last Wednesday, carried the bodies away from Bergamo because there was no longer any place in the cemeteries. A similar scene was repeated this morning, when another 70 bodies were brought to other provinces to be cremated.

Doctors and nurses, silent heroes

Too often what goes on in hospital wards is overshadowed. Yes, every day the commitment of doctors, nurses, health workers, their dedication to work and the enormous effort they are making is praised, but their emotions, their fears, are not taken into consideration. In these days we have repeatedly listened to their desperate appeals addressed to all Italians to stay at home, so that their efforts are not frustrated.

The testimony of a doctor

In these hours the moving testimony is circulating in the media of a doctor, engaged in the front line against coronavirus, serving in Lombardy and reported by the online site “La luce di Maria”. “I was an atheist – he says – now I’m happy to be back to God.” “Never in the darkest nightmares have I imagined that I could see and experience what has been going on here in our hospital for three weeks. The nightmare grows, the river gets bigger and bigger. At the beginning, some came, then dozens and then hundreds; and now we are no longer doctors but we have become decision makers on a conveyor belt. We are forced to decide who should live and who should be sent home to die, even if all these people have paid Italian taxes for life. ”


“Until two weeks ago, my colleagues and I were atheists. It was normal because we are doctors, and we learned that science excludes the presence of God. I always laughed at my parents who went to church. Nine days ago a 75 year old priest came to us. He was a kind man, had serious breathing problems, but had a Bible with him; and he impressed us as he read it to the dying and held them by the hand. We were all tired, discouraged, psychically and physically exhausted doctors when we had time to listen to him. Now we have had to admit: we as humans have reached our limits, we can’t do more; and more and more people die every day. We are exhausted, we have two colleagues who have died and others have been infected. We realized that man can only do so much; we need God. And we started asking for help from Him. When we have a few free minutes we talk with each other, and we cannot believe that we formerly fierce atheists are now every day in search of our peace, asking the Lord to help us remain strong so that we can take care of the sick “.

“Happy to be back to God”

“The 75-year-old priest died yesterday. He who, despite having had so far over 120 deaths in 3 weeks here and we were all exhausted, destroyed, had managed, despite his conditions and our difficulties, brought us a PEACE that we no longer hoped to find. The priest went to the Lord, and if it continues like this, we will soon follow him too. I haven’t been home for 6 days, I don’t know when I ate last time, and I realize my powerlessness on this Earth, and I want to take my last breath to help others. I am happy to have returned to God while I am surrounded by the suffering and death of my fellow men. ”

Related story: What I Learned About Fake News (the Hard Way)


Manuela Petrini, Covid-19, la straordinaria testimonianza di un medico: “Ero ateo ma ora sono tornato a Dio”, INTERRIS, March 21, 2020

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36 Comments on “Updated, This Story Likely Not True–Italian Doctor After COVID-19: “I was an atheist but now I’m back to God.”

  1. Misleading story. This was actually derived from a fake story about a supposed atheist Italian doctor named ‘Julian Urbano’ who have claimed to have accepted Jesus. The story has been circulated on Facebook and was picked up by several religious outlets who doesn’t even verify their sources and just post articles for as long as there is the word ‘god’ stamped on it, but there have been religious websites that had debunked the claim. Hoever, recent articles have been edited and had removed the name because Julian Urbano is not even an Italian name.

    It’s okay to have faith and spread hope. But spreading false information without strong basis isn’t helpful at all to put your beliefs on a positive light.

    • I am not at all surprised by this account from a doctor, or surprised that many would consider it fake. I know that many miracles like this do happen and that people come to God from all academic, social, and philosophical walks of life. Anyone finding God in this world is a miracle of the highest order, because I know that was the case with me.

      • Nelson I appreciate your perspective and I’m glad you shared a little about how you yourself came to God. Unfortunately after some additional research I found that this story is indeed unlikely to be true. You can check out the beginning of this post for more information. God bless you and keep you.

    • Thank you for pointing this out. I did some further research and found this story is indeed unlikely to be true. You can find more information at the beginning of this post.

  2. God works in amazing way. May we reflect on the goidness of the in the midst of Covid-19. Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.

  3. I love this blog today because I live to witness. This priest witnessed with his last breaths. I pray that will be me! What a way to go! I pray this world wide crisis will lead many to Jesus Christ.

  4. The Pandemic has two sides; death and salvation.

    God is real, He is a living Creator of all things and gives salvation to those who are willing to be saved.

    Praise God for this amazing testimony. Blessed be the converted Dr.

  5. Mike, and everyone. What we are seeing now is not GOD letting it happen. This is what happens when a people does see the need for GOD and they are left with their own desires and devises. The very thing that GOD hates is in the hearts of those whom HE loves. It is hard to watch your natural children do the wrong things that bring hurts, when you have told them over and over to do the correct things. You must conclude to well I must allow them to see the mind of their own.
    When the mercy and grace of GOD is not wanted or seen as the covering that GOD provides to keep us from some certainties. HE lifts HIS mercy and grace for one to see what happens when you allow the other one that you never mentioned, HIS enemy, the evil one, to do his bidding to steal kill and destroy. GOD does not live in the realm of Time. HE created Time to give man,/HIS children, a space to repent and acknowledge that HE IS and we need HIM. Thank you for reading. I pray it gives you a thought that will permeate ythe thinking of your mind and not the thoughts of your brain. There is a difference. Written in Much love for all.

    • What’s with all the capital letters? It’s not about respect and is contrary to grammar.

      • Good question BG! The practice of using caps for the name of God is found in some popular Bible translations such as the King James Version. It comes from the ancient Hebrew name for God, also known as the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, which is found in all caps in the ancient Hebrew manuscripts.

    • Exactly Juliet. God is way too big for us to understand everything He allows. His ways are beyond us. Isaiah 55:8-9

    • Indeed, God works in mysterious ways. He seem to tell us to stand still, reflect & listen to HIM.

  6. Mike, our GOD is not a bankrupt and evil GOD. It is us, HIS CREATION, that are bankrupt in love, morals and have become unworthy of HIS great love. This Covid 19 is not GOD’s work but the work of evil men who are motivated with malice and inspired by the Satan and his minions. Remember that GOD gave man the freedom to choose, and humanity often choose the wrong path that brings to us this great catastrophe. You said, why will GOD allow this to happen? You may not believe it but in times of calamity humanity of the present as in the pass always turns back to GOD, and maybe in allowing this tribulation GOD is giving man a chance to remember HIM or know him so that we can repent and be reconciled with GOD.

    • Amen!!! So eloquently said!! I thankGod for people like you who are able to discern the times. So many are questioning why God would allow this to happen, not fully understanding how God works and moves.
      In this darkest hour His Grace is converting people back to Him, changing hearts. He’s giving the world a second chance to get it right!!! That’s Love!!!

    • Whatever men do on earth God gets the blame God provides all we ever needed, and mankind keeps kicking against Him and ruling against Him because mankind want to sin and be free too sin more, then if they get the fruit of their doings on themselves and on those around them they accuse God for giving them free will and not taking away the sufferings brought by their own actions, this is wickedness, but God sent Jesus His only Begotten beloved Son to take our punishment on Himself and share our sufferings to reconcile us to Himself if we chose His way. What a merciful loving God who did not spare but gave His all , what an unrepentant mocking selfish world. Thank God His love and mercy is there for anyone who calls on Him to be saved.

    • “…in times of calamity humanity of the present as in the past always turns back to GOD…”
      Yes! The churches were full after 9/11. The Israelites turned their hearts toward God after experiencing oppression in the Old Testament scriptures.

  7. I take 1000 and ‘Stories that never happened. Remember Isiah 45;7. If a god exists, and he is your God, then he caused the virus and stood back while thousands choked to death from fluids in their lungs. Any modern atheist or doctor alive to day worthy of being called, having the powers of a god, would have stopped this suffering instantly. Only a morally bankrupt and evil god would allow this to continue. Now, go ahead and refuse to allow this post to be published.

    • Oh Mike, I appreciate your perspective and I won’t be taking down your comment. It’s been a long time now but I was once an atheist myself. May I ask, have you lost someone close to you from COVID-19? I hope not. But it sounds like you’re suffering from all the tragedy around us right now.

      It also sounds like you’re thinking this is a story that never happened. If that’s the case, could you do me a favor and share any sources you might have to indicate that? I never want to share fake news on GodRunning.

      • “I was once an atheist myself”
        you know how funny that statement is..?? lol

          • what makes you an atheist in the first place..? what makes you think and say “hey I’m atheist now!”
            enlighten me..

            • For me it was when I was in my late teens to when I was around twenty or so. I grew up with an agnostic dad and almost zero exposure to religion of any kind. I believed there was no God, so, I lived my life looking out for my own interests and for my own lusts of the flesh.

              • see your “reasons” on how you become “atheist” is too shallow.. its a self centered reasoning..

                ..as for myself I grew up a very “religious”.. when I was a kid from 4years old to teen I used to wake up every 3am just to pray specially if I have fever..let’s say I am very nice boy (until now actually) then I became a member in a church choir.. I became a youth leader in the catholic church here in my country.. but ever since I was a child I have full of curiosity.. I have so many questions that I usually ignored because I really love every time I sing in the church along with my fellow ministries.. it was in my 30s when I started to entertain/face all of my questions about belief.. I accept the courage to find answers base on REALITY and not on fantasy.. read and watch about the history of mankind.. history of religions to be exact.. I’m still not an expert about it but I made a conclusion base on what is the heaviest/true argument of each side.. Now I am 44 and an Atheist and proud about it.. FREE from superstition.. I’m an atheist for 11years now.. still happy and contented.. Reality is the only Thing that is REAL.. nothing can help Man but Man.. I still have many priests friends and religious friend.. 🙂

            • Thank you for sharing your story Ray! For me it was similar but in the other direction. From a home with basically zero religion, as I said, I was an atheist in my teens until I was twenty or so. I saw no evidence for the existence of God. I laughed at my friends who believed. Then I began to learn about Jesus. At one point an atheist friend of mine told me to study history. Secular history, not history from a theistic source. He recommended I read the historical text book Caesar and Christ by Will Durant. So I did. And there I was surprised to find that Jesus was real. From there I continued to learn about him and the more I learned the more I moved toward belief until eventually, when I was in my mid twenties, I gave my life to Christ. I love your friendly spirit toward people who disagree with your worldview. Thanks for your comments Ray. Your welcome here anytime!

              • Thanks.. I actually labeled myself as humanist.. I hate division of people.. I love gathering of people for example New Year celebration or the like..we all celebrate it no matter what belief we have..

    • 2 Chronicles 7:14

      “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

      • Like you Thess, I’m hoping and praying peoples’ hearts will be turned toward God as a result of the pandemic. Amen.

    • A child is born in a protective home and parents that care. The parents teaches this child all the comfort in the home and also the dangers outside the protective home.
      The child now grows up and decides he cannot trust the parents words.
      He leaves home-the source of his life and protection, and says to his parents, “its my life and I choose to go out.” He then have children of his own outside his parents protective home.
      He and his children encounters the dangers the parents were warning him about.
      He gets so much hurt and wounded.
      This now grown up man, in tears, curses his parents and accuses the parents of not being loving and caring.

      Is this man being fair the his parents?

      I rest my case.

    • Mike, I want you to know your comment was one that pointed me toward doing further research and you’re correct. This story is indeed unlikely to be true. If you’re interested in what I learned check out the beginning of this post.

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