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Burial Site

During World War I a Protestant chaplain with the American troops in Italy became a friend of a local Roman Catholic priest. In time, the chaplain moved on with his unit and was killed. The priest heard of his death and asked military authorities if the chaplain could be buried in the cemetery behind his church.

Permission was granted. But the priest ran into a problem with his own Catholic Church authorities. They were sympathetic, but they said they could not approve the burial of a non-Catholic in a Catholic cemetery. So the priest buried his friend just outside the cemetery fence. Years later, a war veteran who knew what had happened returned to Italy and visited the old priest. The first thing he did was ask to see the chaplain’s grave. To his surprise, he found the grave inside the fence.

“Ah,” he said, “I see you got permission to move the body.”

“No,” said the priest. “They told me where I couldn’t bury the body. But nobody ever told me I couldn’t move the fence.”

Bits and Pieces, November, 1989, p. 24