This couple had to sell their wedding rings to pay for food – so a priest had new ones made

This couple had to sell their wedding rings to pay for food - so a priest had new ones made
The new rings are a perfect fit. Photo: Private
When priest Gianni Vettorello heard of a couple who had been forced to sell their wedding rings to afford basic essentials, he decided he had to do something to help.

Forty-eight-year-old Diego said that after four years of umemployment he was struggling to make ends meet, to the point that when his eight-year-old daughter got ill over the winter, he and his wife had been unable to buy her medicine.

Diego, from Rovigo in the Veneto region, was laid off four years ago after 16 years working for the post office, and told local paper Il Resto del Carlino: “My university degree and specialization were no use in finding another job.”

As well as their wedding rings, the couple – Diego's wife works occasionally as a nurse – had sold most of their other possessions, and were able to survive only thanks to assistance from the local authority and charity Caritas which covered basic food and bills.

However, they remained unable to afford toiletries including soap and toilet paper, or the basic stationery their daughter needed for school.

Raising his child in poverty was “an immense pain for me as a parent and as a man,” Diego said.

Father Vettorello read their story in the paper, and got in touch with the family. “I met the couple, and they told me their troubles,” he said.
“Straight away, I gave them money to cover the essentials,” Vettorello told The Local, but he wasn't able to cover the cost of the lost wedding rings. The couple went to their local gold shop in an attempt to get their rings back, but were too late – the rings, which had had their names engraved, had already been melted down.
Don Gianni Vettorello. Photo: Private
Vettorello began spreading the word and appealed for donations via his Facebook page, which he uses to share inspirational messages from saints including the pope's namesake, Francis of Assisi, and Italian authors.

He told The Local he was overwhelmed by the response, receiving money from fellow members of the clergy, people from the local area and even much further afield.
One woman donated money she had been given as a gift at her husband's funeral, while offers of help poured in from Abruzzo, Italy's earthquake-hit region. Others donated their own gold objects or offered to help them find work.

“I was able to have new rings made, and when I took them to the couple’s house and invited them to try them on, they broke out in tears of joy, thanking and hugging me,” Vettorello recalled.

“Our Italy is a country of people with big hearts but which needs to devote more attention to others. Usually, it’s those who have suffered in their life who understand the need for solidarity.”

“It is urgent that we give these people back the dignity which is so often trampled upon,” the priest told us.

Now, he wants to help the couple track down something even more elusive than the rings: a job. “This is the most important thing; work is dignity, it allows you to leave the house each day with your head held high,” said Vettorello.

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